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Congressman Richard Neal

Representing the 1st District of Massachusetts

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Reactions to Flynn's resignation from across the Berkshires

February 14, 2017
In The News

"This resignation is the first crack in the vase."

That was how state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, described the resignation of retired Gen. Michael Flynn from his position as President Donald Trump's national security adviser.

Farley-Bouvier was one of a number of Berkshire-based academics, lawyers and politicians who shared their thoughts on the resignation with The Eagle on Tuesday.

Flynn resigned late Monday night, following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia.

Farley-Bouvier said Flynn was likely only the first of many resignations from the three week old administration.

"The incompetence of this administration and the chaos in the reported West Wing will lead to more dominoes falling," she said.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, who represents the Berkshires in Congress, said he is calling for an investigation into Russian links with the Trump administration.

"Following General Flynn's resignation, the probe should now be expanded to include the Trump administration's links with Vladimir Putin and Russia," he said in a statement. "Quite simply, our national security is at stake."

Attorney Raymond Jacoub, of Pittsfield, said that he sees the story as half political and half legal. On the political side, he said, Flynn embarrassed Pence by having the vice president repeat the general's lies. On the legal side, Flynn may have violated the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from engaging in foreign policy on behalf of the U.S.

"Flynn could face a fine or even jail time," Jacoub said.

Late last month, the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn could be in a compromised position as a result of the contradictions between the public depictions of the calls and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on recordings of the conversations, which were picked up as part of routine monitoring of foreign officials communications in the U.S.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition.

Williams College post-doctoral Stanley Kaplan Fellow Galen Jackson said that to his mind the real issue is the politics surrounding the communications. Pence gave out false information due to his conversations with Flynn — and that's a problem.

"The issue is that Pence is furious about it," Jackson said. "And the White House can't have the vice president giving out information that's suspect."

Flynn's resignation comes as Trump and his top advisers seek to steady the White House after a rocky start.

The White House is also dealing with fallout from Trump's executive order, which has been blocked by the courts, intended to suspend the nation's refugee program and bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Asma Abbas, associate professor of politics and philosophy at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, said she believes focusing on Flynn misses the forest for the trees.

"Here, just like in every other high drama of power, the tragic flaw — the administration's and ours — is going to be an emphasis on personality," Abbas said.