The Corner

Politics & Policy

‘No, Michael Flynn Didn’t Violate the Logan Act’

I wrote about Flynn’s conduct during the transition today:

Usually, everyone realizes that the incoming administration has its own prerogatives that deserve respect. When the outgoing administration of George H. W. Bush embarked on the humanitarian intervention in Somalia in December 1992, it coordinated with the incoming Bill Clinton team, which supported and continued the mission.

Obama’s sanctions weren’t undertaken in a cooperative spirit — in fact, the opposite. As the New York Times reported at the time, it appeared Obama “intended to box in President-elect Trump, who will now have to decide whether to lift the sanctions on Russian intelligence agencies when he takes office next month.”

Flynn’s resulting communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, wouldn’t be considered an outrage in a less poisonous political environment.

One, Flynn had no power to vitiate the Obama sanctions in late December 2016. All he could do was urge the Russians, in the words of Robert Mueller’s statement of offense, “not to escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. in a reciprocal manner.” It’s hard to see how asking for a reciprocal response from the Russians undermined Obama policy, unless the entire point was to create a spiraling blowup with the Kremlin at the outset of the new administration.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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