President Barack Obama personally warned then-President-elect Donald J. Trump against adding Michael T. Flynn on his national security team, according to former Obama administration officials, illustrating reluctance of the Trump transition team to dump the former national security adviser despite numerous warnings.
Former president warned Mr. Trump against hiring Mr. Flynn during their first talk at the White House on Nov. 10, just two days after the elections. This was first reported by NBC News on Monday.
White House spokesperson Sean Spicer confirmed the account but downplayed Mr. Obama’s warning as a remark by a person who is “not a fan” of his critic.
“It’s true that President Obama made it known that he wasn’t exactly a fan of General Flynn’s, which frankly shouldn’t come as a surprise given that General Flynn worked for President Obama was an outspoken critic of his shortcomings,” Mr. Spicer told a daily briefing.
Mr. Flynn served during the Obama presidency as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and was fired by him in 2014.
He was a leading surrogate for Mr. Trump during the campaign and led “lock her up” chants against former State Secretary Hillary Clinton. He was forced to resign just 24 days after he assumed National Security Adviser position following revelations that he misled officials over his contacts with Russians.
Mr. Spicer said the former president was not genuinely concerned about the former national security adviser and questioned why Mr. Obama did not suspend General Flynn’s security clearance.
Jen Psaki, former White House Communications Director, tweeted on Monday that Flynn’s security clearance renewal “was considered and approved at home agency, DIA, at a routine level not political, not White House.”
Ex-Attorney General Sally Yates said during a Congressional hearing on Monday that she alerted Trump White House that Flynn “essentially could be blackmailed” by Russians.
In March, Mr. Flynn retrospectively filed the necessary paperwork to register himself as a foreign agent for Turkey. Representative Elijah Cummings wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, just a few days after the elections, warning against hiring Mr. Flynn for top national security positions.
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