The FBI set Flynn up to preserve the Trump-Russia probe

Acting Attorney General Yates was not given notice that would have triggered an obligation to alert White House counsel Don McGahn. By the time she went to see White House counsel McGahn two days later, she was in a position to say not only that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak, putting Vice President Pence in an embarrassing position; she was able to add that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI.

Not immediately perceiving the magnitude of a revelation that the FBI had just interrogated the president’s NSA, in the White House and without getting clearance, McGahn quipped, “How did he do?” Yates has testified that she “explain[ed] to Mr. McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn engaged in was problematic in and of itself” — i.e., the specious Logan Act angle that Flynn had illegally consulted the Russians without notifying the Obama administration. She also fatuously claimed that Flynn could conceivably be subject to Russian blackmail — as if the Russians did not assume the U.S. government had a recording of the Flynn–Kislyak conversation (something they’d have assumed even if it hadn’t already been leaked to the Washington Post). Yates indicated that these problems with Flynn’s credibility and capacity to function as NSA had not been cleared up, despite the FBI’s interview. As McGahn heard Yates out, he was already asking whether she thought Flynn should be fired.

NSA Flynn’s days were numbered. He was frozen out of anything to do with Russia. The collusion chatter went into overdrive. On February 9, the New York Times reported, based on leaks from the usual “current and former American officials,” that Flynn and Kislyak had indeed discussed sanctions. Four days later, the president reluctantly cashiered his chosen national-security adviser, one of few allies he had in a virulently Trump-hostile intelligence community.