Michael Flynn was among the harshest critics of Hillary Clinton’s private email server during the presidential campaign. So it is hardly surprising that the former Democratic contender exacted a smidgen of wry revenge Tuesday after Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
The retired Army lieutenant general stepped down hours after it emerged the Justice Department had warned the White House it believed he could be subject to blackmail.
In his resignation letter, Flynn said the “fast pace of events” meant he provided “incomplete information” to Vice President Mike Pence and others about phone calls last year in which he discussed American sanctions with Russia’s ambassador in Washington.
Flynn was a vocal critic of Clinton’s private email server during the race, even joining the crowd’s chant of “lock her up” at the Republican National Convention.
He also tweeted “U decide,” alongside a link to fake-news story linking Clinton with money laundering and sex crimes with children.
His son, Michael G. Flynn, circulated another fake-news story tying the Clinton campaign to the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory, alleging in December that she had used the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C. to run a child sex-trafficking operation.
Clinton referenced all this in a wry message early Tuesday, in which she retweeted a joke by Philippe Reines, who worked for Clinton in both the Senate and State Department.
Reines played the part of Trump during the Clinton team’s mock debates in the campaign.
U.S. officials have told NBC News that the FBI and CIA agree that Russia tried to meddle in the election to help Trump win. Flynn’s critics, meanwhile, have worried that he was too close to Moscow.
Flynn does have supporters, however, with some Russian lawmakers coming to his defense Tuesday.
The scandal was “not even paranoia, it’s something immeasurably worse,” said a Facebook post by Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.
“Either Trump hasn’t found the necessary independence and he’s been driven into a corner… or russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom,” he added.
Alexey Pushkov, a senator with the United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, said Flynn was “forced to go” because of “paranoia.” Pushkov also labeled the incident a “witch hunt.”
While the Kremlin’s supporters piled in, the government itself remained neutral. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri Peskov, told state-run news agencies that the matter was “none of our business.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Flynn’s resignation was “all but ordained the day he misled the country about his secret talks with the Russian ambassador.” Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russia.
And Reps. John Conyers of Michigan and Elijah Cummings of Maryland said in a joint statement that Flynn was “unfit” to be national security adviser.
Criticism also came from the other side of the aisle, with Texas Republican Rep. Bill Flores tweeting that he was “glad Michael Flynn is gone from White House. We need more sanctions on Russia, not fewer!”