Obama aides fling Flynn back at Donald Trump
Sally Yates, a former Obama-appointed head of the justice department, told a congressional panel at a hearing on Monday that Flynn’s lies, egregious in themselves, had also left him vulnerable, as the country’s national security adviser, to the danger of being blackmailed by the Russians who knew he had misled the administration.world Updated: May 09, 2017 22:56 IST
Among the first set of advises President-elect Donald Trump received from his predecessor Barack Obama was to not hire retired general Michael Flynn, according to aides of the former president, but he chose to ignore it.
How could he not? Flynn was among his most loyal aides and they had bonded over sports and movies during long hours spent on the campaign trail.
Flynn became Trump’s first appointment as his national security adviser, a key position in the White House overseeing the administration’s foreign and defence polices, a few days after his conversation with Obama at a traditional and ceremonial post-election meeting at the White House. And he was fired shortly after Trump’s inauguration mid-January for lying to vice president Mike Pence about his contacts with Russians.
Sally Yates, a former Obama-appointed head of the justice department, told a congressional panel at a hearing on Monday that Flynn’s lies, egregious in themselves, had also left him vulnerable, as the country’s national security adviser, to the danger of being blackmailed by the Russians who knew he had misled the administration.
But hours before Yates’s much-awaited testimony, Obama aides told multiple US media outlets in unattributed reports that the former president had told Trump not to hire Flynn.
This was a direct and pointed response to Trump’s attempt through a post on Twitter, his go-to media megaphone, to shift the blame for Flynn on to Obama, citing the security clearance the general had continued to enjoy despite being fired as head of US military’s intelligence agency, in 2014.
“General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration - but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday, in the first of many that would follow during the day.
Out of patience with Trump’s unceasing attacks on Obama, who had largely stayed away acting on his belief the country can have only one president at a given time, his aides hit back telling NBC news that the former president had told the president-elect not to hire Flynn during their first one-on-one meeting at the White House on November 10, which had lasted 90 minutes.
That changed the story line drastically from the one playing out on social media and live television news in breathless anticipation of Yates’ testimony. It was now about Trump’s questionable decision to hire Flynn, a man dismissed by the former president, and one the White House had trouble defending.
“President Obama made it known that he wasn’t exactly a fan of General Flynn’s,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at the daily briefing, adding, “which …frankly, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that given that General Flynn had worked for President Obama, was an outspoken critic of President Obama’s shortcomings, specifically as it related to his lack of strategy confronting ISIS and other threats around -- that were facing America.”
In short, the Trump administration, one, tried to shirk responsibility for its failure to subject Flynn to a security check befitting someone named to the supersensitive position of national security adviser and, two, made light of a former president’s assessment of a man he had fired.