The guy who exhorted stalwarts in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention in July to Lock Her Up! could himself be vulnerable to being locked up as a result of not registering as a foreign agent with the U.S. Department of Justice.
As thousands of people have recently viewed the grating video of the retired three-star general working the crowd of rabid Hillary haters, many are thinking of one word to describe what has happened in a fortnight to the flagitious Flynn: karma.
In trying to fathom the depth of this ever-developing scandal for the Trump administration in terms of hypocrisy, lack of judgment, criminality, and, of course, karma, the lede in the New York Times said it all:
The candidate he was advising last fall was running on a platform of America First. The client he was working for last fall was paying him more than $500,000 to put Turkey first.
“There’s a natural law of karma that vindictive people, who go out of their way to hurt others, will end up broke and alone,” Sylvester Stallone once said. Could this ever happen to a mean, vindictive, retired three-star general?
He’s not broke yet, nor alone. But it’s early in the long-term scheme that is karma, some would say.
All during the presidential campaign, we were told by candidate Donald Trump that it should be the policy of the U.S. government to apply “extreme vetting” to screen refugees seeking entrance into this country. It is apparent, however, that extreme vetting does not apply for those who seek entrance into the highest councils of government.
No, with the likes of notoriously conflicted ideologues in the persons of cabinet types like Education’s DeVos, Treasury’s Mnuchin, the EPA’s Pruitt, and certainly Flynn as the National Security Advisor, Trump only got it half right. The extreme part was there, for sure, but the vetting was not.
What the FBI must be sorting through now is that Flynn finally got around to registering as a foreign agent last week, acknowledging his past work with Turkey. But there are reports that Flynn was also paid by the Kremlin for his appearances on the cable channel, RT (formerly Russia Today), and for attending a banquet with Vladimir Putin and offering him effusive praise. No one knows for sure if an investigation will find that Trump’s lack of extreme vetting might result in a finding that Flynn is a security risk, but we need to know.
If the entire Flynn saga wasn’t bizarre enough, it seems that his principal assignment on behalf of the Turkish government was to help with the deportation of that country’s most well-known exile, Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. And this is where the Flynn flam gets even murkier.
Gulen, a Muslim cleric with an international following, was once very close to Turkey’s strongman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but the two are now bitter enemies. President Erdogan, in fact, blames Gulen for being an instigator of the failed military coup in Turkey last year. Gulen has denied any involvement in the plot which has resulted in thousands of arrests and a purge of the military and civil service in that country.
In a blustery article posted on The Hill’s website the very day of our presidential election, Flynn asked why America’s taxpayers are in fact supporting Gulen’s network of American charter schools, many of which are concentrated in Ohio and Texas:
To add insult to injury, American taxpayers are helping finance Gülen’s 160 charter schools in the United States. These schools have been granted more H1-B visas than Google. It is inconceivable that our visa officers have approved thousands of visas for English teachers whose English is incomprehensible. A CBS “60 Minutes” program documented a conversation with one such imported English teacher from Turkey. Several lawsuits, including some in Ohio and Texas, point to irregularities in the operation of these schools.
It is truly ironic that the now twice-disgraced former National Security Advisor (he was fired in 2014 as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency), an individual who worked on the dark side as an intelligence officer, supposedly kept his patron, Donald Trump, and others in the dark about his paid involvement with Turkey and Russia. And speaking about adding insult to injury, The Hill recently added an Editor’s Note at the end of Flynn’s article, saying that he failed to disclose his involvement with the Turkish government at the time he submitted his piece.
True to form, there always seems to be something about Flynn that is clothed in darkness.
But that’s not the end of musings about the dark side.
By going after Fethullah Gulen and his charter school network, Flynn, who is known for his volatile personality, as seen in his Lock Her Up! exhortation, has brought renewed attention to the issues surrounding the national Gulen charter school network and its Ohio operations in particular.
Two years ago, Plunderbund published an article describing charter world itself as being part of The Dark Side. With Flynn going down in flames, it may be ironic that in the process, those flames might shed some light on an Ohio charter school chain and why state education and fiscal monitors need to pay more attention to its operations.
In all of this darkness, karma must indeed be at work.
Denis Smith is a retired school administrator and a former consultant in the Ohio Department of Education’s charter school office. He writes about education issues as well as politics and constitutional reform.