Trump Replaces National Security Advisor

A closer look at the chaos of the new administration

Michael Flynn (The Intercept)

By Michael Goerlitz

The Progressive Teen Staff Writer

ONCE AGAIN, SCANDAL STRIKES DOWN ON PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP and his Republican associates. After an election filled with twists and turns, ranging from rape accusations to Trump University, nothing is more publicized and discussed than Trump’s ties to Russia. Opponents of the Republican constantly used the claims of Russian interference in US politics and the possible relationship between Trump and Putin to undermine his win and create speculation on his alliances. This early into the new administration, Russia has already caused mayhem in the White House.

After only a month in office, President Trump lost one of his top officials. Michael Flynn has stepped down from his position as the National Security Adviser amid public knowledge of his misleading statements regarding his communication with the Russian ambassador.

Back in December, Mr. Flynn shared a telephone call with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss American sanctions against Russia. Flynn initially claimed to Mike Pence and other officials that he had no significant interactions with the ambassador.

The aforementioned sanctions were ordered by President Obama after allegations of Russian hacking during the recent presidential election. 35 Russian diplomats were expelled from the US and two Russian compounds were shut down. Although Trump attended meetings with officials to examine the evidence of Russian interference, he dismissed the claims and urged the country “to move on to bigger and better things.”

The Justice Department shared their concerns with the White House about Flynn’s assertion due to fear of possible blackmailing from the Russian government. The White House originally believed that Flynn’s actions were not in violation of any law, and this information was kept private. After the public became aware of this, Trump agreed to examine this issue.

Throughout the election, Michael Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General, supported Donald Trump and remained one of the only national security figures of his rank to do so. A registered Democrat, Mr. Flynn, like many other Trump supporters, criticized Hillary Clinton in attempt to encourage conservatives to vote, saying “The enemy camp in this case is Hillary Rodham Clinton.” He called President Obama a “liar,” complained about our “corrupt” justice system, and spread Islamophobia using social media. Even before his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Michael Flynn supported a stronger relationship with Russia. A few years ago, Flynn attended a dinner in Moscow and sat next to Vladimir Putin. If he remained in office, Michael Flynn most likely would have expanded relations with Russia and supported Trump’s close ties to Putin.

Kellyanne Conway told The Today Show that Flynn voluntarily resigned. She stated that Trump had asked her “to speak on his behalf and to reiterate that Mike Flynn had resigned.” However, at a press briefing, Sean Spicer revealed that Flynn’s actions were “ultimately what led to the President asking for and accepting the resignation of Gen. Flynn.” These two top officials’ statements contradict each other, calling into question whether or not Trump has control over his administration’s actions.

At his Mar-a-Lago estate, President Trump announced that Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was appointed as his new National Security Adviser. A graduate of West Point and the University of North Carolina, McMaster served in the Army during the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. He has had years of experience holding leadership in the military, and he has distinguished himself as a military genius with his successful strategies and strong background in war-making. Although he was a popular pick with Republicans such as Senator Tom Cotton and Senator John McCain, McMaster has no experience in politics, a possible challenge for him during this administration.

McMaster and President Trump (Kevin Lamarque /Reuters)

Lt. Gen. McMaster’s experience and capability could make him a major asset to Trump’s administration. “He’s a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience,” said Trump about his new National Security Adviser. His first challenge would be to control the disarray that the National Security Council has fallen into. McMaster has shared many of his thoughts on certain controversial issues. One major difference between McMaster and his predecessor is his tougher stance on Russia. In the past, he expressed his concerns with Putin’s actions in Ukraine and Russian involvement in Western affairs. McMaster showed interest in increasing military participation to fight ISIS. While commanding troops in Iraq, McMaster created counterinsurgency tactics successfully used by Gen. David Petraeus. He believes in stronger control on the ground and less reliance on technology when fighting.

This new appointment comes after former Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down the position. Retired after almost 40 years in the Navy, Harward holds the position of chief executive at the United Arab Emirates division of Lockheed Martin. Harward was a top pick for the open position, as he had already worked on the National Security Council’s counter-terrorism office under President George W. Bush. One of the major reasons for Harward turning the position down was his family. He believed that the stress of the job would distract him from his family and his current priorities, saying, “Like all service members understand, and live, this job requires 24 hours a day, 7 days a week focus and commitment to do it right. I currently could not make that commitment.”

After Flynn’s resignation on February 13, his resignation letter made its way around various news stations and newspapers. “I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” wrote Mr. Flynn. “I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way.” The document later details Mr. Flynn’s relationship with President Trump and reiterates Trump’s campaign promise to “Make America Great Again.”

In response to Flynn’s resignation, Vice President Mike Pence discussed his “disappointment” over Flynn’s actions, saying,”I was disappointed to learn that…the facts that had been conveyed to me by Gen. Flynn were inaccurate.” He showed his support for Mr. Flynn’s departure.

Trump’s reaction to Mr. Flynn’s deception of White House officials creates suspicion about his true intentions as president. Despite the fact that the Justice Department warned government officials of Flynn’s actions, steps to prevent Russian blackmailing were not taken into action. Trump became aware of the calls to the Russian ambassador weeks before Pence was informed of the misleading. Even though President Trump did express his regret that Flynn misled Pence, he approved of Flynn’s discussions with Russia. When considering Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, it seems as if he remains loyal to Putin and his Russian associates. The question that remains is, if the time comes, will President Trump put his personal relationships aside to prevent Russia from interfering with American politics?

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