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15 Feb, 2017 01:50

‘Trump lost loyal supporter in Flynn targeted for seeking better relations with Russia’

Michael Flynn has become a political target for a part of the US establishment rejecting any compromise with Russia, according to veteran journalist Ed Schultz who hosts 'News with Ed Schultz' on RT America.

Schultz also believes the resignation is a major blow for President Trump who has lost one of his most loyal advisors.

President Trump's National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned on Monday over accusations of talks with a Russian ambassador on “illegal” topics – namely sanctions. The Kremlin, however, denied any talks on lifting the restrictions with Flynn or any other US official.

RT: Why are we seeing such a selective approach here? Obama before being elected visited many countries, talked to foreign leaders without any consequences. And Flynn has to resign over a phone call.

Ed Schultz: It is important to point out that President Obama was a sitting US senator, who was on foreign relations at that time and that gave candidate Obama an opportunity and basically a cover to go out and circumvent the Logan Law and have contact with foreign leaders to his campaign’s advantage. So this situation is different in that regard. But it also addresses malicious action and there was nothing malicious or no poor intent on the part of General Flynn, when he was having discussions with any leaders from around the country trying to work on the smooth transition. And he, of course, was very upfront about that.

The travesty in all of this is that it is so terribly unnecessary. General Flynn, as I see it, really has not done anything wrong, he was trying to foster better relations between the US and Russia and there are people on the Capitol Hill, who just do not want to see that happening. He has become a target in the eyes of some and I think it is also very important to point out that General Flynn from the start was the most and maybe the first loyal and supporter of Donald Trump early in the campaign.

I had conversations with General Flynn before the elections and I point blank asked him ‘Are you the guy, the candidate Trump is going to when it comes to the national security issues?’ – and he said ‘Yes, I am.’ I had that conversation with him in Las Vegas at the scene of the third debate, which of course focused a great deal on international relations and it was very clear that Trump has had tremendous confidence in Flynn and this has been a very hard decision for the entire administration.

RT: It seems for a lot of people that it would be a standard practice for diplomats to be in contact with presidential advisors. But it seems that any politician who expresses friendly attitude towards Russia is immediately blamed and accused of God knows what. Why is that? Why so much paranoia and hysteria?

READ MORE: Russian lawmakers blame US ‘paranoia’ for Michael Flynn’s resignation

ES: That’s pretty tough to explain. There are people on both sides, both Republicans and Democrats, that do not trust Russia, that believe that Putin is the enemy – General Flynn saw all that in a different light and that made him somewhat of a political target.

I think that this was really hard for the President, I think that he trusts Flynn, I think that he wants to honorably move forward with better relations with Russia and tried to start something positive with President Putin but I think that there are so many forces, including the media that just do not want to see that happen. I do not hear any voices on the Capitol Hill saying ‘let’s give Russia a chance,’ ‘let’s give a restart a chance.’ There is such a gap mentality in America right now when it comes to American politics, it is hard to accomplish anything.
The big issue here moving forward is that the President is going have to decide if he is going to get a national security adviser that is his pick or the pick from the Capitol Hill that everybody is going to go along with. We are still in some pretty uncharted waters here when it comes to the future.

RT: Were any other options available for Flynn apart from resigning?

ES: Flynn could have gotten fired and I do not think that the President wanted to be put in that position. There is a great respect between Donald Trump and Michael Flynn. I think that President Trump has handled this really masterfully – he now can go out in front of the media now and say ‘I did not fire the guy, he came in and resigned. He was under pressure, he saw what was beyond the point of diminishing returns and it was time to make a decision.’

Trump has never had any experience in government, he has never had any experience in national security nor has he ever had any experience in military intelligence. And General Flynn has been the guy who has tutored, counseled and guided President Trump through the campaign, through the debates and then through the elections and the first month of his presidency. The bottom line here is – this is a loss for the President because there was a time when he really trusted Flynn.

So I believe that Mike Pence, the Vice-President, played a big role in all of this. When there was a mischaracterization of the conversation and then Vice-President Pence went out on the air and defended Flynn and made the assurance that there were no illegal conversations and there were no conversations about sanctions. That put the Vice-President in an untenable position, he could not back away from that. And then when a revelation came out that he did not fully disclose the content of the conversations, or there was a miscommunication on what was talked about it put the Vice-President in a position, where I believe he went to President and said ‘Look, I’m trying to deal for you on the Capitol Hill, my word has to mean something. And when I go out on the network television to defend your guy, it better be right.’

And so the President, I’m speculating, probably was put in the position like, you know, ‘General Flynn you got to fix this. I don’t deserve this.’ And I think that’s really the roundabout of how it came down the way it’s unfolding. General Flynn in a sense was protecting the President in the final analysis that he did not want to put the President in a position when he had to be fired. And he took it upon himself to resign. And now the President can go out and have some cover in that regard.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.