How Michael Flynn Became Target Zero in Obama’s Russia Collusion Plot

If there was any doubt that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was Target Zero in the Russia Collision conspiracy or that President Barack Obama was an active co-conspirator, presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway put those doubts to bed last week.

“I would remind everybody that President Obama told President-elect Trump he had two things to worry about: North Korea and Michael Flynn,” Conway said last Thursday on Fox’s America Newsroom.

“Folks, that’s just weird on its face,” Conway continued, as if folks needed to be told. “You gotta worry about a nuclear-capable dictator in North Korea, and you gotta worry about a general of 37 years who served in… the Obama administration.”

Conway’s comments came in the wake of the unnerving revelation that FBI higher-ups actively plotted to drive Flynn, the designated national security adviser, from the Trump White House.

“What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” wrote an FBI official, believed to be former FBI counterintelligence director Bill Priestap. “If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it.”

This revelation shocked even Bush confidantes into outrage. “On what planet is it ever acceptable for FBI agents to discuss how or if they can get someone fired?” tweeted Ari Fleischer, former Bush White House spokesman. “Comey and his top officials were out of control.”

Lost in the hubbub was the question of why it was Flynn who so concerned Barack Obama. The more general answer is that Flynn was the one Obama appointee not afraid to speak his mind. Appointed to head the Defense Intelligence Agency in April 2012 by Obama, Flynn was forced out two years later for, well, speaking his mind.

Although news reports at the time were circumspect about the reasons for Flynn’s departure, a leaked email from retired Gen. Colin Powell in September 2016 spoke to the sentiments of Obama insiders: “I asked why Flynn got fired. Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc. He has been and was right-wing nutty every [sic] since.”

Flynn, of course, did not get to be a lieutenant general by being a bad and abusive manager. He abruptly became bad and abusive by not being an Obama sycophant, especially on Islamic issues. Nor did Flynn become a target of the Russia collusion conspirators for his presumed right-wing nuttiness.

Flynn almost assuredly became Target Zero for his willingness to expose and undo what Obama considered his signature foreign policy achievement, the Iran nuclear deal. Obama may have suspected that the deal was fatally flawed, but there was one thing he knew, namely that the deal was built on a framework of lies and deceptions.

“The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” the oddly incautious Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes boasted of the Iran con job. “We created an echo chamber. They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

Flynn, by contrast, was saying things that invalidated the Rhodes talking points. In March 2015, while Obama’s people were selling a swooning media the deal’s imagined virtues, Flynn was sharing some inconvenient truths.

"Iran is also a country with ballistic missiles, cyber capabilities. They are also still a state-sponsor of terrorism,” Flynn told Chris Wallace on Fox News. “And here we are dealing with them as though we’re going to give them a carte blanche -- I know it will be some number of years to have a nuclear capability. Give me a break!"

Had Flynn remained a nutty outlier restricted to the conservative news ghetto, the Obama crowd could have ignored him. When Flynn moved into Trump’s inner circle, he morphed from nuisance to threat.

On February 26, 2016, the conspirators began their sabotage campaign against Flynn with an article in Yahoo News. The article led the with the seemingly shocking revelation that Trump was “receiving foreign policy advice from a former U.S. military intelligence chief who wants the United States to work more closely with Russia.”

The co-author of that article was one Mark Hosenball. As I detailed in a December 2019 article in American Thinker, Hosenball, wittingly or otherwise, served as the CIA’s chief propagandist in the investigation into the 1996 destruction of TWA Flight 800. I told Hosenball as much in 2003 when I met him at the Newsweek office where he was then working. As the reader might suspect, it was an unpleasant encounter.

In 2016, Hosenball was still apparently carrying water for the intelligence community. Three sources, allegedly “former foreign policy officials in past administrations,” tipped him off to this seemingly ominous news of Flynn’s softness on Russia.

In retrospect, what makes the article suspect is that Russia had not yet become the media’s public enemy number one, let alone the White House’s. In July 2015, for instance, Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin to thank him for his help securing the Iran nuclear pact.

Obama had reason to be grateful. No foreign leader had more influence over the mullahs than Putin. As Obama told Tom Friedman of the New York Times, “We would have not achieved this agreement had it not been for Russia’s willingness to stick with us and the other P5-Plus members in insisting on a strong deal.”

In July 2015, it was still respectable for an American president to collaborate with Putin. If fact, as even Hosenball acknowledged, other Republican candidates had been criticizing Obama for being “weak in standing up to the Russian leader.” Indeed, Obama had famously mocked Mitt Romney in a 2012 debate for taking the Russian threat seriously.

“Weird” as it may seem, the conspirators at the White House chose to frame Russia in order to frame Flynn. To pull this off, they had to validate Romney’s claim in 2012 that Russia was “our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

When Romney made this claim during the 2012 foreign policy debate, Obama countered with a scripted zinger: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for twenty years.” As Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler noted at the time, the Obama jab “spawned approving headlines.”

For eight years, the headlines went wherever Obama directed them. Seeing how willing the media were to validate “what we had given them to say” about Russia and Flynn, the conspirators subsequently played the Russia card on Trump. I am sure even Obama was shocked at how well the whole damn thing played out -- at least until it didn’t.

Jack Cashill’s forthcoming book, Unmasking Obama,  is available for pre-order at Amazon.

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