Speed Reads

a lesson in history

NBC News declares Flynn affair the biggest scandal since Iran-Contra

On Tuesday, NBC News dubbed the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn the biggest scandal involving a foreign government since the Iran-Contra Affair nearly 30 years ago. "Considering everything we now know about this story — an incoming administration was having conversations with a foreign adversary, and not telling the truth about them — you have to go back 30 years to Iran-Contra to think of a comparable scandal," NBC News wrote.

The Iran-Contra Affair, first revealed in November 1986, came during former President Ronald Reagan's second term:

It consisted of three interconnected parts: The Reagan administration sold arms to Iran, a country desperate for materiel during its lengthy war with Iraq; in exchange for the arms, Iran was to use its influence to help gain the release of Americans held hostage in Lebanon; and the arms were purchased at high prices, with the excess profits diverted to fund the Reagan-favored "contras" fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

It was a grand scheme that violated American law and policy all around: Arms sales to Iran were prohibited; the U.S. government had long forbidden ransom of any sort for hostages; and it was illegal to fund the contras above the limits set by Congress. [The Washington Post]

Several members of Reagan's administration were charged after televised hearings in 1987, including Reagan's national security adviser, John Poindexter, and his deputy national security adviser, Oliver North.

Flynn, who stepped down Monday night, is under fire for speaking to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions imposed on Russia over its alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election, and then later telling Vice President Mike Pence that he and Kislyak had not discussed the sanctions. Pence repeated that claim, and defended Flynn.

But Flynn later admitted he actually had spoken to Kislyak about the sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama's administration. In his resignation letter, Flynn said he had apologized to both Trump and Pence, and claimed he had unintentionally briefed Pence with "incomplete information."

NBC News, looking at the potential parallels, was left with this question to Congress: "Are you going to support a full investigation into arguably the biggest political scandal involving a foreign government since Iran-Contra?"