On Monday, Michael Flynn resigned from his post as national security adviser, and millions of people breathed a very short sigh of relief.
After the revelation he discussed sanctions against Russia in a phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before President Donald Trump took office, the Justice Department worried he could be vulnerable to blackmail.
In his resignation letter, he admits only he gave “incomplete information” to Vice President Mike Pence and others because of the “fast pace of events.” Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. has been appointed acting national security adviser.
On the subject of ties with Russia, Trump tweeted the topic is “nonsense” meant to distract from the failures of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and the “real scandal” is that “classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy.” He also expressed concern that information on his dealings with North Korea could be leaked — this, from a man who discussed those dealings in the middle of a crowded dining room.
On Saturday, while at Mar-a-Lago, Trump received a call about a North Korean missile test, and proceeded to discuss it with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over dinner. Though White House press secretary Sean Spicer insists he was actually briefed in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility there, any policy discussion at the table would have involved sensitive information. A Congressional committee has since asked for more information about security precautions taken.
In addition, Trump and Abe read documents with the aid of phone flashlights, i.e. phone cameras pointed directly at the documents. Previously, experts raised concerns about the security of Trump’s own old Android phone. If compromised, his phone — or the phones of anyone else in the room — could potentially track location, record audio and video and give hackers access to his personal accounts.
This would obviously be disastrous. Someone with compromising information on the U.S. president would hold a huge amount of power. This raises a question: why does he not seem to care?
Given his massive ego, it seems unlikely he would admit he doesn’t know how to implement good security practices. Perhaps he is unwilling to change because he genuinely believes, against all evidence, that he knows better.
In the past, he has questioned the legitimacy and knowledge of experts who have disagreed with him, and there’s no reason to believe he would be any more willing to listen to security experts who want him to give up the convenience of tweeting at any time.
In the case of the North Korean crisis, I’m sure he enjoyed everyone watching him wield power. His immense desire for publicity and positive attention is fundamentally at odds with the necessity of keeping information private. He’s found his way into an exclusive group of powerful people, and he wants to make sure everyone knows it. His strategy for handling legitimate concerns about the security and foreign ties of his administration seems to be semicoherently yelling about how the people who exposed them are the real danger, rather than his own irresponsible administration.
This childish “Who, us? No, you are!” response is a ridiculously poor attempt to deflect attention from the actual issues at hand. People want to know if their government is compromising the integrity and security of the country.
This is the main issue: If members of our government can be blackmailed, our entire country could be unknowingly steered by the agenda of whoever holds that blackmail material in their hands.
Regardless of how you may feel about the political decisions of Trump and his administration, their security is our security. When the intelligence community is reportedly nervous about what they can safely tell the president, it’s clear we’re all at risk.
Trump has no sense of responsibility about his power, and he acts like an arrogant child. If he continues to ignore the advice of people with experience, he will flat out have no idea how to run this country, and it seems increasingly unlikely he’ll find the barest scrap of humility necessary to seriously consider the opinions of another human being. He can’t admit he is wrong, and he will continue to endanger everyone in this country.
This man is not fit to be president.