Danielle Pletka: Flynn Did Nothing Wrong Talking to the Russkis

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. Danielle Pletka writes that there’s no law that forbids an American from talking to curious foreigners. If that American was negotiating on behalf of the United States, maybe, just very very maybe, they’re in violation of US law, but probably not, as again, talking with foreigners is not illegal. Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

A major crime has taken place. It relates to conversations between Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador.

Here is the crime, reported in the Washington Post:

The talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said. […]

Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

Yes, you've got that right. Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador, which is, and I underscore this, par for the course. Campaigns and newly elected officials and their reps meet with foreign ambassadors often.

Obama's people did, and did so with the intent of undermining the outgoing Bush administration. Bush's people did it when Clinton was leaving. McCain's team did and they weren't elected.

There's nothing that stops people from meeting with curious foreigners, and there's no law that forbids any American from talking to those foreigners. If that American was negotiating on behalf of the United States, maybe, just very very maybe, they're in violation of US law, but probably not, as again, talking with foreigners is not illegal.

(The Logan Act suggests it is illegal to work with a foreign government to resolve their dispute with your own. However, the notion that this would survive a constitutional test, or that Flynn was collaborating against his own government, is far from proved, or even credible.)

Related : Danielle Pletka: What Trump's Tizzy Fit with Oz Tells Us

Did Flynn misrepresent his contacts with the Russians to Mike Pence? Did he say they didn't discuss sanctions? That is another question, and one to be resolved first and foremost within the administration. But…

What is illegal is leaking highly sensitive classified information about signals intelligence from spying on the Russian ambassador. And what is also illegal is for the CIA to spy on Americans. This is not a maybe, or an if, or a sorta. It is illegal.

These nine officials should be found, prosecuted and if found guilty, imprisoned for leaking classified information. That they did so for political reasons is all the more despicable.

As I am well aware there will be those who accuse me of shilling for the Trump Team, please go back and read my work. Those charges won't stick. Nor will suggestions that Flynn somehow worked magic with the Russkis to get Trump elected. Even there, all Flynn seems to have suggested was the inadvisability of retaliatory sanctions against the United States. Go figure, that evil man, telling Moscow not to sanctions us.

A coda: At the weekend, this story is joined in the headlines by what can best be described as yellow journalistic attempts to describe the recent roundup and deportation of of illegals as a new Holocaust, or something.

While I cannot excuse the Trump executive order or the Nordstrom shtick or lots of other recent Trump depredations, the notion that he should somehow be tarred with this brush is too damn rich.

Do you know how many illegals Obama deported? Do you assume that because he was so charming, they turned themselves in, or do you reckon they were deported? Here is the fact, reported by ABC News:

Between 2009 and 2015 [Obama's] administration has removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders, which doesn't include the number of people who "self-deported" or were turned away and/or returned to their home country at the border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

That's almost 1,000 people a day.

Know your facts before you read. Check your sources. You can still disagree, but, at least for this Trump skeptic, the news this weekend was a real wake up call.

Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.