Televangelist Pat Robertson blamed the forced resignation of President Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on “left-wingers and so-called progressives” in the federal government, whom he accused of trying to destroy the country and “revolting against what God’s plan is for America.”
He also suggested that members of the U.S. intelligence services committed a federal crime by listening in on a 29 December 2016 phone conversation between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Robertson made the charges during a 15 February 2017 broadcast of The 700 Club in which he cited Bible passages in an effort to equate opposition to President Trump with disobedience to God:
You know, you read the Bible, and there was a point in there where God told Jeremiah, he said, “Tell them to take the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar,” and they didn’t want to do it, and you read the second Psalm which says, “Why do the nations rage, and imagine a vain thing,” and they revolt against the Lord and his anointed. I think, somehow, the Lord’s plan is being put in place for America and these people are not only revolting against Trump, they’re revolting against what God’s plan is for America. These other people have been trying to destroy America. These left-wingers and so-called progressives are trying to destroy the country that we love and take away the freedoms they love. They want collectivism. They want socialism. What we’re looking at is free markets and freedom from this terrible, overarching bureaucracy. They want to fight as much as they can but I think the good news is the Bible says, “He that sits in the heavens will laugh them to scorn,” and I think that Trump’s got something on his side that’s a lot more powerful than the media.
Flynn’s resignation was the culmination of a chain of events that began with his phone conversation with Kislyak on 29 December 2016, the same day President Obama announced new sanctions against Russia for allegedly meddling in the U.S. election. Questioned by the media about the phone call’s timing, Flynn and others, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, characterized it as routine, repeatedly denying there was any discussion of the announced sanctions or the incoming administration’s plans regarding them. They continued to deny it even after the Justice Department informed the Trump White House in late January 2017 that Flynn’s account was at odds with an FBI report based on an intercept of the call.
After news of the discrepancy leaked to the press, Flynn changed his story, saying he “could not be certain that the topic [of sanctions] never came up.” On 13 February 2017, he resigned at President Trump’s request, admitting he had “inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.”
For Robertson, the most concerning thing about the incident was not that Flynn potentially interfered with U.S. foreign policy, or that he misrepresented the content of his conversation with Kislyak, but that the call was monitored, and then information about it leaked to the press.
“I think it’s time we stopped worrying about what General Flynn knew or didn’t know,” Robertson said. “[T]he question is, somebody was tuning in on those telephone conversations, and that is a federal crime.”
However, according to intelligence sources cited by CNN and the Washington Post, the communications of Russian officials in the U.S. are routinely monitored.
Entous, Adam, et al. “Justice Department Warned White House that Flynn Could Be Vulnerable to Russian Blackmail, Officials Say.”
The Washington Post. 13 February 2017.
Haberman, Maggie, et al. “Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser.”
The New York Times. 13 February 2017.
Miller, Greg et al. “National Security Adviser Flynn Discussed Sanctions with Russian Ambassador, Despite Denials, Officials Say.”
The Washington Post. 9 February 2017.
Nakashima, Ellen and Miller, Greg. “FBI Reviewed Flynn’s Calls with Russian Ambassador But Found Nothing Illicit.”
The Washington Post. 23 January 2017.
Perez, Evan and Sciutto, Jim. “U.S. Investigating Flynn Calls with Russian Diplomat.”
CNN. 23 January 2017.