National Security

Gertz: Politicized Flynn Firing Continues to Reverberate

Washington Free Beacon senior editor Bill Gertz argued during an appearance on "Sandy Rios in the Morning" that the scandal surrounding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn remains politicized.

Gertz and Rios discussed former acting Attorney General Sally Yates's testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Flynn's communications with Russian officials during the presidential election and transition.

Rios pointed out how Flynn has been shrouded in slurs and uncertainty since he was fired for failing to disclose that he contacted Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Gertz argued that there are "two competing narratives" surrounding Flynn that were "on display" during the Yates hearing.

"One from the Democrats, that have been pushing this false Russian collusion angle," Gertz said. "And then the Republicans are focusing on who leaked this sensitive intelligence of a U.S. citizen talking to the Russian ambassador, something that he was permitted to do as the incoming, expected national security adviser."

Rios asked why the transcript of Flynn's conversation with the ambassador was only available to some, such as the Washington Post, and not to the public. Gertz said that this was a part of the political attack.

"[The original Washington Post story] quoted a former senior Obama administration official as saying that the administration was scrambling to go through all this various intelligence looking for negative information. It's clearly a political attack operation in my view," he said.

"We need to know what was said there. I think it's incumbent on the intelligence community to release that information," Gertz continued. "At this point, there's no real reason that it should be kept secret. And I think it's important that it gets out there so that everybody can make their judgement on what happened."

Gertz argued that making the information public has been complicated by Trump's choice to fire Flynn. Rios suggested that Flynn was fired because Vice President Mike Pence was offended at Flynn's failure to disclose his Russian contacts.

"It was kind of a loyalty test for the president, that he had to kind of get rid of Flynn in order to pacify Vice President Pence and Reince Priebus," Rios said.

Gertz agreed. "It's clear that's probably what was the calculus. You had to satisfy the concerns of the vice president or lose your critical national security adviser," he said.

Gertz further claimed the choice continues to have a serious impact on the national security process, including a politicization of decision making about security clearance.

"The intelligence community has politicized the security clearance process at the White House," he explained. "They first denied the clearance to one of Flynn's advisers, Robin Townley, who was an African affairs [person] on the NSC staff. And then just recently, the Pentagon pulled the security clearance for another person on the NSC staff, Adam Lovinger, who is an important strategic analyst on loan from the Pentagon."

"Clearly there's a political fallout from this Flynn affair still going on," he concluded.