There is only one sensible reaction to the resignation of retired Lt. Gen.
Flynn had to go after admitting that he had “inadvertently” misled Vice President-elect
But Flynn's departure is also good news because he was as volatile a presence in the administration as he was in the Trump campaign, where he is remembered for inciting delegates at the Republican National Convention in their anti-Hillary Clinton chants. "Yeah, that's right," Flynn said. "Lock her up." Not unlike the president who appointed him, Flynn engaged in stereotyping of Muslims, at one point tweeting a YouTube video listing bombings committed by Muslims with the title "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL." His brief tenure as national security advisor will be remembered most for a bellicose appearance at a White House news briefing at which he put Iran "on notice" — a vague but worrisome warning. Flynn was a rash and reckless hothead unsuited to a position of such tremendous responsibility.
The White House contended on Tuesday that Trump acted decisively after the Justice Department raised concerns about Flynn's misrepresentations — although it was a slow-motion, several-weeks-long sort of decisiveness. In the end, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, Trump asked for Flynn's resignation not because of any illegality or even impropriety in his actions but rather because of "trust" issues. So if Flynn hadn't dissembled on the subject, Trump wouldn't have minded if he had talked substance with the Russians? He wouldn't have minded that Flynn floated the idea of lifting at least some of the sanctions that had been imposed on Russia for interfering in the election on Trump's behalf? Those are troubling thoughts.
Nor should the White House have the last word on whether Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador were legal or appropriate.
A 1799 federal statute known as the Logan Act makes it a felony for a private citizen to negotiate with a foreign government. Sally Yates, the acting attorney general in late January, alerted the White House about Flynn's misrepresentation of his conversation partly because she believed he was in potential violation of the Logan Act. Granted, the law is basically a dead letter; otherwise prominent figures who have negotiated for the release of American hostages held overseas over the years might have ended up in prison. Still, it's the Justice Department, not the White House, that is responsible for assessing criminal responsibility. And Flynn's conversations with the ambassador potentially could be of interest to an FBI investigation of Russian efforts to influence the election.
Flynn also must be scrutinized by the House and
Flynn is the first major casualty in an administration that has careened from one tempest to the next -- picking ridiculous fights with the media; offending and then making nice with leaders of China, Mexico and Australia; flubbing the rollout of a temporary ban on entry from seven mostly Muslim nations before the courts put it on hold; undermining its own agenda with startling tweets and discursive forays into petty beefs. And it comes at a time when Trump's foreign policy team is in disarray, led by a businessman with no diplomatic experience and riven with dissent from the ranks. Even with all that, some additional uncertainty is an acceptable price to pay for replacing a loose cannon like Michael Flynn.