President-elect Donald Trump has promised to reveal secret evidence of Russia's innocence in the hacks that helped deliver his Electoral College victory. And, if it exists, that information may have come from retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the Russia-connected senior appointee who, among other things, spread slanderous and repugnant fake news about Hillary Clinton.
When President-elect Donald Trump hinted that he would reveal secret evidence of Russia’s innocence in the hacks that the FBI and CIA say were intended to deliver him the election, I noted that if such information actually existed, it might be the product of a Russia-connected source with an interest in defending the Russian government.
And as it turns out, that might be true.
On The Today Show Tuesday morning, incoming Trump White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway was asked if the source of Trump’s alleged secret information was National Security Advisor-designate Michael Flynn, who has deep ties and sympathies with the Russian government. Conway’s response was telling, as was her apropos-of-nothing defense of Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson:
LAUER: When is he going to have a press conference? He promised one in December, to talk about conflicts of interest with his business. Last time he held one was 159 days ago. He famously at that point urged Russian hackers to look for Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. When is he going to hold a press conference, and when is he going to divulge what he says he knows that others don’t know about that Russian hacking?
CONWAY: Well, I’ll take the second part first. He will have a briefing by our top intelligence officials early this week here in New York, Matt and Katie, at which time he will perhaps learn more about what they say. We’re tired of the insinuations and the blind quotes and people really leaking to the press, rather than dealing directly with what may or may not have happened with the hacking.
LAUER: But will he tell the intelligence officials what he knows that others don’t know?
CONWAY: He may, but I think every president and every president-elect ought to know things that the rest of us don’t know, particularly when it comes to our intelligence.
COURIC: And is he getting that information from General Michael Flynn, his pick to be National Security Advisor? Because he does have close ties with Vladimir Putin. In fact, we have this photo from December of 2015 that shows him at a dinner with Putin. Is that where he is getting this information, Kellyanne, that other people don’t know?
CONWAY: He is getting information from a number of sources. He is the president-elect, Katie, he receives regular presidential daily briefings. That’s a product. But in addition to that particular product, the president-elect receives intelligence briefings from many different sources. I would push back on the idea that someone sitting at dinner with someone else has, quote, close ties, and a coziness that Nancy Pelosi is trying to talk about. Rex Tillerson, our Secretary of State designee, is an amazing pick because he’s someone who has done business in 50 countries or so, in Yemen, in Russia, certainly. And somebody who understands how to negotiate and how to say no to some of the leaders when necessary.
To be clear, Conway is lying when she says Russia’s interference in our election is based on “insinuations and the blind quotes and people leaking to the press.” Those assessments are a matter of record from several intelligence agencies.
The photo that Couric showed was of Flynn attending an anniversary gala for Russian state-owned media outlet Russia Today, at which Flynn delivered a paid speech. Flynn also courted controversy when his son spread the slanderous “Pizzagate” story, and Flynn himself also disseminated similar fake news on Twitter.
Conway’s response raises the possibility that Trump is getting his secret information from an advisor who has been directly paid by the Russian government, and has a tendency to make things up.
Just as telling is the fact that Conway volunteers a defense of Tillerson without even being asked. But with all of the controversies surrounding Trump’s team, it must be difficult to keep them all straight.