It is a truth universally peddled by wisemen and -women in Washington, though not necessarily obeyed by presidents, that when the White House is in trouble, the best cure is to hoist the head of an adviser on a spike of the fence encircling the executive mansion.
Firing—sorry, accepting the resignation of—an adviser makes for an easy way to demonstrate that the administration understands it has a problem and is working to fix it. That person doesn’t necessarily need to be the root of the problem, though it’s helpful if they’re at least somewhat involved. Other times, some bad press offers a useful pretext for pushing out someone who was already on thin ice.
If President Trump wants to find a sacrificial lamb, he’s got options. There’s Sean Spicer, whose bumbling performances as press secretary have earned him a brutal mockery on Saturday Night Live and, reportedly, the dissatisfaction of the president. There’s Kellyanne Conway, who has proven a more effective spokesperson for the Oval Office but is also more prone to major blunders, and who finds herself in the crosshairs of congressional overseers after exhorting people to buy Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing.
But as of Thursday evening, the betting pool for who gets voted off the island first has a new favorite: National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. It had long been known that Flynn had spoken with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration. That raised eyebrows, given Trump’s positive comment about Vladimir Putin’s regime, Putin’s more or less open cheerleading for Trump, and what the U.S. intelligence community says was Russian hacking intended to help Trump during the campaign. Flynn confirmed the conversations, but insisted he had not discussed sanctions that the Obama administration levied on Russia in retaliation for that hacking. Such a conversation would risk violating the Logan Act, which bars citizens from negotiating with foreign governments without authorization.