‘I’m watching a clown show’: Security officials appalled by Flynn appointment as top Trump adviser
Republican President-elect Donald Trump is facing growing opposition to his choice of Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser including a roster of current high-ranking security officials, the Intercept said on Friday.
“I’m watching a clown show,” said former CIA and FBI official Philip Mudd this week. The Trump transition team’s choice of Flynn for national security adviser, he said, indicates that the incoming administration has no intention of moderating itself or the incendiary tone it set on the campaign trail.
Flynn is widely known as being anti-Muslim and his habit of using Twitter to spread wild and alarming right-wing conspiracy theories is attracting more attention than his military and public service record.
“I want to see a transition from a campaign to reality,” Mudd said. “I’m not seeing it yet.”
“You want the national security adviser to be a calming more than an exciting influence,” former CIA head Gen. Michael Hayden told a lunch gathering on Wednesday. “Mike tweets more than his boss.”
On Thursday, former national security adviser to Pres. Bill Clinton Gen. Barry McCaffrey said that he is having to seriously reassess his opinion of Flynn’s judgment after viewing his social media feed.
“But I must admit that now I am extremely uneasy about some of these tweets, which don’t sound so much as if they’re politically skullduggery, but instead border on being demented,” McCaffrey told NBC News.
Flynn and his son Michael Flynn, Jr. were partly responsible for spreading the “Pizzagate” story, a fake news story alleging that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her top aides were running a child sex ring out of the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizzeria.
The story originated on a pro-Trump Libertarian website and then went viral. Earlier this week, a man armed with an assault rifle entered the premises and fired off three shots.
“You can’t be considered credible if you’re trafficking in bad information,” said former Clinton administration official David Rothkopf, now the CEO and editor of Foreign Policy magazine. “Calling Islam a cancer is bad information. Trafficking in fake news, that’s bad information.”
“The willingness of key establishment figures to speak out against Flynn is unusual in official Washington, which tends perpetuate itself through a culture of understatement and accommodation,” wrote the Intercept’s Mattathias Schwartz. “As Trump’s national security adviser, Flynn would be the president’s main link to the Principals Committee, the main organ for setting foreign policy and responding to crises within the White House. The appointment does not go through the Senate confirmation process.”
That these officials are willing to break ranks and sound the alarm on Flynn’s appointment speaks volumes, Schwartz said.
At Wednesday’s lunch talk, Hayden said the appointment of Flynn represents “a bleeding over of the hyper-partisanship of Washington into our community. That is really, really bad.”