Is the United States a rogue state? Is it a failed or failing state? The answer, of course, is no, or at least not yet. But the hyperbole is intentional, meant to underscore how each day of Donald Trump’s presidency brings us deeper into the realm of the unimaginable.
As I filed this column, the latest scandal to engulf the administration is the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn less than a month after inauguration day. According to the White House’s own account, Flynn’s misdeed was not to have discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S. during the post-election transition period, but to have subsequently lied about the substance of his conversation to the president and vice president.
The unanswered questions that continue to dog the White House beggar the imagination, since they would be dismissed as farfetched if they appeared in a second-rate Hollywood spy thriller. It seems implausible that Flynn might have acted on such a matter independently, without the knowledge of Trump, then the president-elect, or his other senior advisers. At the time, after all, this was the blockbuster story dominating the news cycle, and one that seemed to have particularly exercised Trump himself, judging by his comments to the media.