Fresh questions over Flynn add to White House turmoil

Vincent Carr
May 19, 2017

The controversy surrounding former national security adviser Michael Flynn has engulfed President Donald Trump's White House. The job gave Mr. Flynn access to the president and almost every secret held by American intelligence agencies.

That denial came almost a day after the New York Times first reported, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the case, that Flynn told lawyers on Trump's transition - including Don McGahn, who now serves as White House counsel - that he was under investigation by the Justice Department. In fact, two days after his election, Trump traveled to Washington to meet with then-President Barack Obama - a meeting in which Obama cautioned Trump away from naming Flynn as his national security adviser. Even though he fired him, Trump has continued to heap praise on the retired lieutenant general, has defended his communications with Russian Federation and possibly attempted to obstruct justice in order to clear his former adviser's name.

"Trump feels really, really, really, bad about firing him, and he genuinely thinks if the investigation is over Flynn can come back", said one White House official.

Neither Flynn nor Trump have commented on the story published by the New York Times - but Trump has shared his opinion of the publication before, calling it "fake news".

WH calls NYT report that Flynn & his lawyers told Trump transition team he was under federal investigation "flat wrong".

The Trump team had previously been warned by former acting attorney general Sally Yates and then-President Obama about Flynn well before news of his ties to Russian Federation became public.

Those sources said Trump didn't believe Flynn should be under investigation in the first place.

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Yet Flynn has remained in the spotlight as the FBI investigates his ties to the Russian government as well as his lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government during Trump's campaign. After Flynn was sacked, it was re-instated. In March, White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed Manafort played a "very limited role for a very limited amount of time" in Trump's presidential campaign.

According to a New York Times report, the White House knew Flynn was under investigation for his work with the Turkish government weeks before the inauguration.

The Justice Department also took notice. By Jan. 4, the day Flynn informed McGahn of the inquiry, the Justice Department was investigating the matter. In 2014, Flynn retired as a three-star general, reportedly after being forced out the of the senior intel post. He ended up leaving a message, identifying himself as Flynn's lawyer.

On November 8-the same day Trump was elected-Flynn published an op-ed in The Hill, championing improved relations between Turkey and America, and describing Gulen as a "shady Islamic Mullah". Current and former US officials said that, on the calls, Flynn discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Russian Federation for disrupting the November election. "He likes him, he trusted him, he was comfortable with him", he said...

After news of the calls became public, Flynn misled Pence about what he had discussed with Kislyak, telling him that the two had only exchanged holiday pleasantries.

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