WikiLeaks blames Flynn’s resignation on ‘destabilization campaign’

After helping destabilize the 2016 election, WikiLeaks has some theories about Flynn's departure.

Feb 28, 2020, 4:15 pm*

Tech

Andrew Couts 

Andrew Couts

Cancillería Ecuador/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Without a hint of irony, WikiLeaks on Tuesday blamed Michael Flynn’s resignation as national security adviser on a “destabilization campaign” instigated by Democrats, journalists, and “U.S. spies.”

The negative characterization of the events leading to Flynn’s resignation as a coordinated effort between high-level operatives is sure to raise eyebrows.

Flynn filed his resignation on Monday for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of a December call between Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, in which the pair discussed U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, which violates federal law.

After a Washington Post op-ed revealed the Flynn–Kislyak call in mid-January, Pence appeared on Face the Nation to defend Flynn and categorically denied any wrongdoing.

In fact, Flynn reportedly discussed sanctions former President Barack Obama imposed on Russian operatives after the U.S. intelligence community concluded that the Kremlin ordered cyberattacks and leaks meant to hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Flynn reportedly said Russia should wait until Trump took office and had a chance to roll back the sanctions.

Tens of thousands of private emails Russia is believed to have stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were later published online, primarily by WikiLeaks, sending the tumultuous 2016 election into further disarray. 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the timing of his publication’s release of a trove of DNC emails, which led to the resignation of then-DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz just days before the Democratic National Convention in July, was intended to hurt Clinton. 

Assange has repeatedly denied that the Russian government provided WikiLeaks with the DNC and Podesta emails, a claim the U.S. intelligence community refutes.

Both Assange and Flynn, many have noted, repeatedly appeared on Russia Today, the Kremlin’s state-funded English-language propaganda outlet. Assange also briefly had his own show on the network.

Still, WikiLeaks is correct that journalism and the U.S. intelligence community played major roles in Flynn’s ouster. 

In addition to the Washington Post op-ed exposing Flynn’s call with Kislyak, the publication also reported on Monday that the Department of Justice warned the Trump administration last month about the nature of the Flynn–Kislyak call and the potential for Russia to blackmail him. 

U.S. intelligence agencies focused on the Flynn–Kislyak call after Russia said it would not retaliate for Obama’s sanctions, an unexpected move. The FBI routinely monitors calls from foreign governments, including Kislyak’s. James Clapper, then the head of the CIA, reportedly joined former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama appointee later fired by the Trump administration, in concerns about the call. 

The details of the events, revealed by the Post, the New York Times, and other outlets, all came from anonymous sources within the U.S. government—leaks that Trump characterized on Tuesday morning as the “real story.”

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*First Published: Feb 14, 2017, 11:17 am