Speed Reads

But what does Russia think?

Russia seems unhappy that Michael Flynn is leaving the Trump administration

Even after the White House decided that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had overstayed his welcome, the former lieutenant general still had his supporters: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), for example, plus Breitbart News, and Russian lawmakers.

Flynn, who has a friendly history with Russia, was forced to resign over his misrepresented conversations with Russia's ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak. Russia has continued to deny that Flynn and Kislyak discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia before President Trump's inauguration, despite Flynn's tacit acknowledgment that they did, amid numerous reports that U.S. intelligence has transcripts of the phone calls. Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Parliament upper chamber's foreign affairs committee, said on Facebook Tuesday that firing Flynn for speaking with Russia is "not just paranoia but something even worse." Trump either "hasn't found the necessary independence and he's been driven into a corner," he added, "or Russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom."

The foreign relations chairman of Russia's lower house, Alexei Pushkov, concurred, tweeting that "it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia." He later tweeted, in English, that "Flynn was forced to leave after an aggressive campaign by U.S. mainstream media," quoting as proof the front page of the New York Daily News ("Russian for the Exit"). That is also the key message on state news site RT, which quotes former Pentagon analyst Michael Maloof (whose security clearance was apparently revoked in 2001) as calling Flynn's departure "a victory for mainstream media and for the Democrats," arguing that "a crescendo of noise from the mainstream media... distracted the White House from trying to get its job done."

The official line from the Kremlin, delivered Tuesday morning by Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, is that this isn't Russia's business. "This is the internal affair of the Americans, the internal affair of the Trump administration," he said. "It's nothing to do with us."