A Dutch newspaper has tracked down participation of a Dutch transport company, Mammoet, in a complex scheme involving Michael Flynn and nuclear reactors.
Of all the outrageous stories to come out of the Trump administration, this one is likely to take the prize. When we get past its being the most complex and figure out what was happening.
The story at the link is consistent with what I know, and Chrome translates it pretty well. I’ve been following the story for some time and still don’t know what to make of it – is it a scam, an attempt to privatize the State Department’s Middle East functions, or something else?
A quick overview: Michael Flynn became involved with some folks who thought it would be a good idea to sell 40 Russian nuclear reactors, with a protection corps, to the Middle East. The Middle Eastern countries would pay for it all, they would become developed and industrial, and peace would result. Flynn and Tom Barrack worked hard to sell the program to the government in the early days of the Trump administration. Some remnants of the organization Flynn was involved with continue and hope to sell a downsized (and deRussianized) program, although they no longer have voices in high places.
I have many questions. Why did anyone think this was a good idea? How were a couple dozen general and flag officers who knew nothing about nuclear reactors pulled into this organization? Is it a scam? If so, who is scamming whom? There’s more to the story, too, than what is in the article. I’ve been saving it up until there’s a good news hook to hang it on or until I can make sense of it. It may be a while.
The repercussions of Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia don’t go away. Michael Flynn is a part of that relationship, although it is not clear how much of his interaction with Russian officials was directed by Trump. Trump keeps interactions at arm’s length so that he can claim he is not responsible for his administration’s wrongdoing. Flynn had connections to Russia before he became part of Trump’s machine.
Attorney General William Barr has requested that the case be dropped against Flynn for lying to federal agents, to which Flynn pleaded guilty. Judge Emmet Sullivan plans to open the case to amicus curiae briefs and has appointed a retired federal judge to argue against the government’s case for dismissal.
Acting DNI Richard Grenell has released records of requests for “unmasking” that resulted in the legal action against Flynn and the discovery that Flynn was lying to Vice President Mike Pence, for which he was fired by Trump. Those records raise further questions of what Flynn was doing.
Michael Flynn was one of a number of people pushing the “Middle East Marshall Plan”. His job seems to have been acting as the project’s spokesperson and operative within the administration. That position came to an end on February 13, 2017, when he was fired from his job as National Security Advisor. Read More
Michael Flynn is known for thinking outside the box, and we need ideas outside the box to solve some of the world’s problems. It’s also great when an action can address more than one problem. But it also helps to know what you’re doing.
Here’s an IDEA: The United States and Russia work together to supply Middle Eastern countries with civilian nuclear power. Several of those countries have been seeking nuclear power. The United States and Russia have companies that can build the plants. That’s the deal Flynn was seeking in October 2015. Read More
The Washington Post and the New York Times published stories last night with more information about Michael Flynn’s phonecalls to Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Not long ago, it appeared that those phonecalls might have been no problem.
The phonecalls came after President Obama expelled members of the Russian embassy to the United States in retaliation for Russian hacking of the US election. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a statement indicating that there would be a reciprocal expulsion of Americans; this is standard diplomatic practice in such situations. But within a day, and after the phonecalls, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he would suspend that standard, not expelling any Americans. Read More
The plans offered by ACU and IP3, the companies working with Michael Flynn on a scheme to sell reactors to Saudi Arabia, have many problems. Some, perhaps all, of those problems may arise from naivete about the nuclear industry and the regulations surrounding it. Looking at the plans and how they changed over time may help in understanding what these companies were doing. Read More
Since elements of the story first appeared, I have been intrigued by the idea that Michael Flynn wanted to sell nuclear reactors to the Saudis. Too much of it doesn’t make sense and still doesn’t. A few things I’ve wondered about:
Flynn has no experience with nuclear reactors.
Why nuclear reactors? There are a great many problems in selling in building them.
Why Russian reactors?
Why is the administration so persistent in pushing this deal?
Most importantly, is this activity connected to other varieties of Trumpian corruption?
A simple theory can explain this. The Saudis want nuclear reactors to eventually build a nuclear weapons program. Flynn was at the head of a group of Trump-connected grifters who wanted to make money from that desire. Informed by a profound ignorance of nuclear economics and nonproliferation, it explains everything in a general way, but others also have the uneasy feeling that it’s more than that. Read More
Stuff that just doesn’t make sense or doesn’t fit together always catches a scientist’s eye. Today’s Michael Flynn story has caught my eye. There is a fairly straightforward story on the surface: Flynn had a business deal involving Russians. He is reported, by one whistleblower, to have texted a business associate during the inauguration to say that the sanctions on Russia would be coming off soon, so they would be able to make a gazillion dollars. The New York Times and NBC broke the story this morning, and Politico, McClatchy, and Reuters have followed.
If that is what Michael Flynn discussed with the Russians, it is at least dishonest, and probably illegal. Read More
As the corruption of the Trump administration is exposed, I keep two questions in mind: Why Ukraine? and Why energy? The simple answer is that they are where the money is. The more extended answers will be more interesting.
Natural gas seems to be the current focus in energy, but Michael Flynn had a bizarre plan to partner with the Russians to sell nuclear reactors in the Middle East and continues today in Rick Perry’s dealings with Saudi Arabia.
Information on Ukraine seems to be coming together now, although we almost certainly don’t have the final word. And energy plays a part. Read More