The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump's national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.Today, Haaretz reports this:
The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn's credibility, multiple sources revealed.
The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration's efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.
In the bigger picture, the loss of Flynn on Trump’s team will surely come as a deep disappointment to those in Israel who counted on his uncompromising stance on Iran and Islamic terror to influence the direction of Trump’s policy....But in a normal presidency, the departure of one adviser -- even a top adviser -- wouldn't result in the radical remaking of a president's policy. A president presumably has opinions of his own, and if they're strong opinions, you'd expect them to keep policy relatively consistent regardless of who the advisers are.
The Israeli hard right loved Flynn. When he was first named to his post, right-wing pundit Caroline Glick wrote in a celebratory piece that he “is far-sighted and determined, and locked on his target: Iran.” She expressed her belief that “Trump intends to bring down the Iranian regime as a first step toward securing an unconditional victory in the war against radical Islam.”
Trump certainly talks as if he has firm opinions on the Iran deal:
... Trump called the nuclear pact a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated" during his campaign and said it could lead to a "nuclear holocaust."Trump said the same thing in the interview with Bill O'Reilly that aired on Super Bowl Sunday:
In a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC in March, Trump declared that his “Number-One priority” would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”
“I think it was the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated,” Trump told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly in an interview that aired prior to the Super Bowl.But Flynn is gone, and now we assume that Trump isn't determined to scuttle the Iran deal and isn't particularly angry at the Iranians. That's not normal. He's the president. He said he was angry at Iran and unswervingly opposed to the deal, and that should still be true.
The president continued: “I think they have total disrespect for our country and I understand that deal. I would have lived with it if they said ‘OK, we’re all together now,’ but it’s just the opposite. It’s like they’re emboldened. They follow our planes, they circle our ships with their little boats and they lost respect because they can’t believe anybody could be so stupid as to make a deal like that.”
Trump said it was a “deal that never should have been negotiated....”
But, of course, this is Donald Trump we're talking about. I suppose he really might not care about Iran if the next person to whisper in his ear on the subject says the regime's behavior is acceptable and the deal really isn't bad at all. I think the Free Beacon's theory is off base, but if you wanted to completely upend Iran policy in the Trump White House, it's likely that you could do it just by targeting Flynn. He really might have been Trump's brain on this. Who knows what Trump believes about Iran now?Do you think Trump knows?