The dust-up seems mainly to be about the decorum of presidential transitions. Days after the 2016 election, the Trump team cautioned the Obama administration against pursuing new and damaging foreign policy initiatives that did not align with Trump’s priorities.
“I don’t think it’s in keeping with the spirit of the transition,” one of president-elect Trump’s national security advisers told Politico on Nov. 10, 2016, “to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect’s positions.”
The Trump transition team feared, for good reason, that the lame-duck Obama administration was poisoning the well with Russia, and pursuing spiteful anti-Israel policies on the way out the door. Trump asked Flynn, his soon-to-be national security adviser, to open a semi-official channel to Russia through its ambassador to discuss future cooperative efforts against the Islamic State and the United Nations vote on an anti-Israel resolution. As lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued, “Not only was that request not criminal, it was the right thing to do.”