With new evidence emerging to show just how widespread the targeting of Michael Flynn was by the Obama administration, lots of questions remain. As I wrote this morning, even Christopher Steele got in on the act, being paid by the FBI to help dig up dirt on the then incoming NSA. Because of a recently declassified email by Susan Rice, we also know for sure that Barack Obama was intimately involved in the scheme.
The question of why remains front and center though.
Obviously, we could just assume politics drove matters. Donald Trump was someone Obama wanted to stop from becoming President, so they did whatever it would take to kneecap him. That’s a simple and probable enough behind their malfeasance. There’s also the issue of the Trump-Russia investigation and the realization that Flynn would uncover it all if he assumed his position. Either of those explanations makes sense, and no doubt they played a role in the thinking.
But there’s a third possibility which perhaps played a greater role in motivating Obama to take action.
For Barack Obama the purpose of Russiagate was simple and direct—to protect the Iran deal. He saw Michael Flynn as a signal threat to that legacy. Obama had to stop Flynn.
— Lee Smith (@LeeSmithDC) May 21, 2020
This theory is laid out via Lee Smith’s latest piece.
So if the Obama administration wasn’t alarmed by Flynn’s nonexistent ties to Russia, why was he Obama’s No. 1 target? Why were officials from the previous administration intercepting his phone calls with the Russian ambassador?
The answer is that Obama saw Flynn as a signal threat to his legacy, which was rooted in his July 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Flynn had said long before he signed on with the Trump campaign that it was a catastrophe to realign American interests with those of a terror state. And now that the candidate he’d advised was the new president-elect, Flynn was in a position to help undo the deal. To stop Flynn, the outgoing White House ran the same offense it used to sell the Iran deal—they smeared Flynn through the press as an agent of a foreign power, spied on him, and leaked classified intercepts of his conversations to reliable echo chamber allies.
Flynn had butted heads with Obama before, eventually leading to his firing. He had long opposed the Iran nuclear deal, rightly pointing out the dangers behind it and idiocy driving it. In the end, Obama would get his way though, signing a deal in 2015 which effectively green lit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a short delay and a lot of empty promises surrounding moderation of the regime.
But as more information came out, it was obvious that Obama didn’t just get snookered by the Mullahs. He had actively chosen to play into their hands largely because he saw the deal as the linchpin of his legacy. Some time between his re-election and the signing of the deal, Obama went from a somewhat worthy pursuit to becoming obsessed with signing a deal at all costs. That’s how you end up with situation where the Iranians are given billions in cash and only had to effectively agree to pause enrichment.
Of course, things went far deeper than that. There was also evidence beginning to emerge in 2016 that shady, corrupt dealings had went on to make sure the deal was signed. Things such as trying to backdoor Iran access to the financial system and lies being told about what the JCPOA actually did. Those were dealings Flynn had every intention of exposing.
Flynn not only made it clear that he wanted to undo the Iran Deal, he also broadcast his determination to find the documents detailing the secret deals between Obama and Iran, and to publicize them. With Flynn on the march, the outgoing administration was keen to shield the JCPOA. Obama diplomats consulted with their European counterparts and gave the clerical regime more sanctions relief, even after the Senate agreed with a 99 to 0 vote to renew the Iran Sanctions Act. Kerry called his Iranian counterpart to tell him not to worry.
Recall that Obama was not profoundly interested in Russia prior to the election. While it’s easy to look back and assume he was all aboard the collusion train in 2016, the truth is that he was mostly AWOL, allowing Russia to run roughshod when he thought it would benefit him. As Smith points out, it was Hillary Clinton who wanted to use Russia as a campaign issue. Meanwhile, Obama made some empty threats and essentially did nothing.
In other words, the idea that this was always about Russia doesn’t add up. What makes far more sense is that Obama originally turned his sights on Flynn over the Iran deal. He wanted to protect his legacy and cover up his administration’s misdeeds. To do that, he needed to buy time. Going after Flynn and eventually piggy-backing off the newly founded Russia hysteria afforded him exactly that.
In the end, Obama was such a narcissist, so wanting o protect his “greatest” achievement, that he was willing to do just about anything. If that meant reviving a previously deemed non-viable case against Flynn to stop him from uncovering what had happened, then so be it. Pretty soon, Flynn had been fired and H.R. McMaster, who largely supported the Iran deal, was put in place at the urging of the established order.
And he’d have probably gotten away with it too if not for Sidney Powell, who came onto the scene and decided she wasn’t going to let what happened stand.