Amid Boiling Tensions Over Russia Ties, Former White House Officials Say Obama Warned Trump Against Hiring Flynn
Former U.S. President Barack Obama reportedly warned current President Donald Trump against hiring Mike Flynn as his national security adviser, former White House officials revealed.
Obama warned Trump about Flynn in the days following the 2016 Presidential Elections, but the warning went under the radar so far. News now came to light just as former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is about to testify that Flynn made misleading statements to the White House regarding his connection with Russia's ambassador to the United States.
Obama Warned Trump Against Hiring Flynn
Three former White House officials from the Obama Administration told NBC News that during the 90-minute meeting in the Oval Office following the Presidential Elections, Obama warned Trump against making Flynn his national security adviser.
Flynn previously worked as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but the Obama Administration fired him back in 2014 mainly due to his temper and mismanagement issues.
A senior Trump Administration official confirmed on Monday that Obama did indeed talk to Trump about Flynn and made it clear that he's "not a fan," but another official says the remark seemed like a jest.
At the same time, the warning was before concerns started mounting within the government over Flynn's relation to the Russian ambassador, an official pointed out, adding that Obama simply expressed his opinion that Flynn was not a good choice for that position. Two officials also said that Obama warned Trump to keep an eye on North Korea matters as well.
Despite Obama's word of caution, Trump hired Flynn as his national security adviser only to let him go shortly after that. When it came to light that Flynn was having private talks with the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions, the Trump Administration fired Flynn three weeks into the job for misleading Vice President Pence about what they discussed in those conversations.
Pressure Mounting As Yates Prepares To Testify
Back when Flynn was still the national security adviser, Yates warned the White House that Flynn had made misleading statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. On Jan. 26, Yates told White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II that Flynn's misstatements could leave him vulnerable to foreign blackmail, since Russian operatives would be aware that he had misled his superiors.
The details of that conversation with McGahn, including his answer, remain unknown so far but Yates' testimony could shed more light on the matter. Yates is scheduled to testify before a Senate subcommittee on Monday at 2.30 p.m.
Trump took to Twitter to throw shade at Yates before the hearing, but her testimony could nonetheless raise new questions regarding the President's response to concerns that his first national security adviser had misled the White House.
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
In another Tweet, Trump adds that the Obama Administration gave Flynn the highest security clearance, "but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that."
On the other hand, it would also be worth adding here that Flynn had his top security clearance renewed in January last year, but he should have gone through a far more rigorous vetting process before becoming the national security adviser, since this position granted him access to the United States' most guarded secrets.
Law enforcement agencies are now also looking into Flynn's lobbying for Turkish matters during the campaign, as well as his paid appearance on behalf of Russian state media, but the White House made no comments in this regard or about Flynn's vetting process.