Michael Flynn as Synecdoche for the Trump Administration

Michael Flynn, short lived National Security Advisor

“Synecdoche” is not a word one sees very often. It denotes a literary device in which a part of a thing refers to the whole thing, or vice versa.

Michael Flynn was not part of the Trump administration for very long, but his sorry tale may well prove to be the part that tells the entire story of Trump’s presidency: a hyper partisan, conspiracy addled buffoon whose contacts with Russians brought him to grief once they became public knowledge. Michael Flynn or Donald Trump?

Not only does the story of Michael Flynn potentially foreshadow the trajectory of Donald Trump’s story as president of the United States, but Trump’s apparently undying loyalty to Flynn may play a prominent role in Trump’s undoing.

Multiple reports revealed that outgoing president Barack Obama warned incoming president Donald Trump not to hire Flynn as National Security Advisor, but in classic Trump fashion, the new president ignored sound advice and did it anyway, only to have to fire him soon after when the news broke that Flynn had lied to vice president Mike Pence about his conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Much more important to Trump than sound advice from the outgoing (black) president was the fact that Flynn had been a loyal cheerleader of Trump’s from early in his campaign, which is all that really matters to Trump. Observers have noted, and wondered about, the fact that Trump has taken to castigating his former fixer and sometimes lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is in a very similar fix to that of Flynn — cooperating with federal prosecutors about his dealings with Trump in the hope of winning leniency — while he continues to heap praise on Flynn.

The most likely reason is that Flynn has been very quiet, at least in public, since he started his cooperation. Trump started sniping at Cohen after Cohen went public following his sentencing and stated loud and proud that Trump had directed him to commit his special crimes.

But the fact that Flynn’s recent sentencing produced paroxysms of conspiracy theorizing on the right wing fringe about how the FBI had entrapped Flynn, former high ranking military officer and National Security Advisor (hint: that’s idiotic), and Sarah Hickabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, echoed this nonsense during a press briefing, suggests one other equally plausible explanation — Trump really believes that Flynn is entirely innocent and will ultimately be found such, meaning that, in 19 sessions with the FBI, he cannot have possibly told them anything that could incriminate him.

Flynn’s lawyers had recently floated the theory, which his right wing hallelujah chorus took up with gusto, that the FBI had entrapped Flynn and failed to notify him that lying to them is a crime. This is idiotic in the extreme. Flynn is a former high ranking military officer and, according to Trump, at least, qualified to be National Security Advisor. He knew perfectly well that lying to the FBI is a crime. Further, what did he have to lie about? The judge fed the conspiracy theories when he ordered the prosecutors to release a document detailing one, critical FBI interview with Flynn.

But, oh, cruel fate! The same judge then viciously, viciously eviscerated the conspiracy theory at what was supposed to be Flynn’s sentencing hearing by inducing Flynn to state repeatedly that he is guilty and lied to the FBI, saying that Flynn sold his country out and suggesting briefly that his conduct amounted to treason before offering the option of postponing the sentencing until after Flynn finishes his cooperation with prosecutors, since the prosecutors had recommended no prison time for Flynn because of his extensive cooperation.

Given Trump’s persistent, profound ignorance of all matters involving law or legal procedures, and his general stupidity, it is well within the realm of possibility that he still thinks nothing Flynn told them will implicate him. His lackey, Sarah Hickabee Sanders’, handling of questions on this topic makes this surmise more convincing.

Let us recall that it was testimony by former FBI director James Comey that he thought Trump wanted him to end his investigation into Flynn’s conduct that prompted the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to begin with. Comey recently suggested that Mueller might well take note of Trump’s attacks on Comey as a witness in the investigation.

So Flynn’s loyalty to Trump allowed him entree to the Trump administration, and Trump’s loyalty to Flynn may well contribute to Trump’s demise. Truth really is stranger than fiction.



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William B. Turner

William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.