Michael Flynn

Flynn Never Signed Ethics Pledge on Lobbying

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn “did not sign an ethics pledge ostensibly required of all Trump administration appointees barring them from ethically questionable lobbying activities,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The pledge, imposed by executive order a week after President Donald Trump took office, bars all federal appointees from lobbying their former colleagues for five years after leaving the administration and bans them from lobbying on behalf of foreign governments for life.”

What Other Surprises Did Flynn Leave Behind?

Rick Klein and Shushannah Walshe: “Michael Flynn is gone from the Trump administration, but he’s not forgotten – and with good reason. The disclosure that Flynn was paid more than half a million dollars to lobby on behalf of the government of Turkey – work he performed in the run-up and immediate aftermath of the election – is a stunner.”

“As his ties to Russian officials continue to be scrutinized, what other foreign lobbying work was he being paid for – directly or indirectly – as he was about to be tapped to serve as President Trump’s national security adviser? Did he disclose any such contracts to the president’s team when his name was under public and private consideration? Moreover, Vice President Mike Pence’s icy response – ‘It is an affirmation of the president’s decision to ask Gen. Flynn to resign,’ he told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Thursday – raises questions about what other aspects of Flynn’s behavior led to his dismissal. Recall that, after he asked him to go for misleading Pence about his contacts with Russia, the president himself called Flynn a ‘wonderful man’ who was treated unfairly by ‘the fake media.'”

Who Gave Flynn the Orders to Talk to Russia?

New Yorker: “Even before Flynn’s rapid fall, his closest military colleagues had been struggling to make sense of what had happened to the talented and grounded general they once knew… Some of Flynn’s former military colleagues, even those from whom he’s drifted apart in recent years, told me they were skeptical that Flynn would have conducted shadow diplomacy on his own. Despite his reputation as an agitator, he was, in the end, a soldier who followed orders, they said.”

Said one intelligence official: “This story is bigger than Mike Flynn. Who told Mike to go do this? I think somebody said, ‘Mike, you’ve got some contacts. Let them know it’s gonna be all right.’ Mike’s a soldier. He did not go rogue.’”

House Committee Probes Russian Payment to Flynn

“In an unusual bipartisan letter, House Oversight and Government Reform committee chair Rep. Jason Chaffetz and ranking minority member Rep. Elijah Cummings have asked a Washington-based speakers bureau, Leading Authorities, to turn over information on how much Flynn was paid for his appearance at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT — the Russian-government funded news organization — where he sat at the same table for dinner as President Vladimir Putin,” Yahoo News reports.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports the Pentagon says it “has not discovered any evidence former national security adviser Michael Flynn received authorization to accept money for a paid Russian state TV event in 2015.”

Flynn Told FBI He Didn’t Discuss Sanctions with Russia

“Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy, as lying to the FBI is a felony, but any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department.”

Who Told Flynn to Call Russia?

Daniel Benjamin: “As official Washington and the press home in on the permanent disarray in the White House, whether the disgraced Flynn broke the law and who will succeed him after his three-week tenure, the key question is getting lost in the shuffle: Who told Flynn to call Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States? Because I’m convinced Flynn didn’t do it of his own accord. Flynn is a bit player in a much larger story regarding the president’s relationship with the Kremlin, and it’s this story the press needs to focus on.”

Flynn’s Access to Classified Information Suspended

The Defense Intelligence Agency has suspended the security clearance it granted to former national security adviser Michael Flynn in the latest blow to the embattled retired general, NBC News reports.

DIA spokesman James Kudla said, “We thought it was prudent to take a pause on his access to classified information” given “all the questions” around Flynn’s conduct.

FBI Interviewed Flynn Early On

“FBI agents interviewed Michael Flynn when he was national security adviser in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador,” the New York Times reports.

“The interview raises the stakes of what so far has been a political scandal that cost Mr. Flynn his job. If he was not entirely honest with the FBI, it could expose Mr. Flynn to a felony charge.”

Ryan Lizza: “Both Congress and the FBI are looking into Flynn’s links to Russia. There are several former Obama officials who saw transcripts of his calls with the Russian Ambassador. The dripping has only just begun.”

House Oversight Committee Won’t Investigate Flynn

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) “said that his panel won’t investigate the circumstances that led to Michael Flynn stepping down Monday as President Trump’s national security adviser,” The Hill reports.

“Instead, Chaffetz deferred to the House Intelligence Committee, which is already investigating Russia’s attempt to influence the presidential elections, a scope that includes campaign communications with the Russian government.”

A Remarkably Normal Political Scandal

Washington Post: “What’s remarkable about the Flynn saga was how incredibly routine it was. A deeply damaging story comes out. The White House goes into bunker mode. Conflicting reports from conflicting aides emerge. And then, whammo: resignation.”

“It was a prototypical Washington scandal that played out like hundreds of similar ones before it. It felt, dare I say it, normal. Normal is worth noting in a presidency — and an administration — that has been anything but in its first 24 days.”

Playbook: “This shows that, despite the unorthodox approach to everything, Trump is still operating under some D.C. norms: don’t lie to the VP, and have him embarrass himself on national television on multiple occasions… Kellyanne Conway went on television hours before he was canned saying he had Trump’s full confidence. That should give you some context.”

Was Flynn Unaware His Phone Call was Tapped?

Washington Post: “After the sanctions were rolled out, the Obama administration braced itself for the Russian retaliation. To the surprise of many U.S. officials, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Dec. 30 that there would be no response. Trump praised the decision on Twitter. Intelligence analysts began to search for clues that could help explain Putin’s move. The search turned up [Russian Ambassador Sergey] Kislyak’s communications, which the FBI routinely monitors, and the phone call in question with Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general with years of intelligence experience.”

Playbook: “Isn’t it shocking that Flynn didn’t suspect the Russian ambassador’s phone calls were being listened in on?”

Why Trump Let Flynn Go

Politico: “Trump’s decision on what to do with Flynn was not easy, according to several people who spoke with him about it. The president values loyalty perhaps more than anything, and Flynn had been one of his most staunch surrogates on the campaign trail. The president saw Flynn as a fellow outsider who had a good sense of the national security challenges.”

“But Trump became increasingly convinced that the question of Flynn’s contact with Russia wasn’t going away. His top aides and advisers distrusted Flynn, according to senior White House officials and others who spoke with Trump, and Trump was concerned that the intelligence and national security community would always oppose Flynn, sources said.”

“Pence was unhappy with Flynn for not telling him the truth and told the president about his displeasure, a White House official said, but said he would accept whatever decision the president made.”

Mike Allen: Flynn’s 97 hours of hell