Michael Flynn

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

Russian Lawmakers Defend Flynn

“Leading Russian lawmakers rushed to defend President Trump’s former national security adviser on Tuesday after he resigned for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Russia,” the Washington Post reports.

“The heads of the foreign affairs committees in both Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament chalked up Michael Flynn’s resignation to a dark campaign of Russophobia in Washington, and said it would undermine relations between the White House and the Kremlin.”

Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser

Embattled White House national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday night, two sources tell CNN.

“The move comes less than a month into the job, making him one of the shortest-serving senior presidential advisers in modern history.”

“The sudden exit marks the most public display yet of disarray at the highest levels of the new administration, which has faced repeated questions over a slew of controversies and reports of infighting among senior aides during its first three weeks.”

White House Searching for Replacements for Flynn

Jared Kushner “is involved in a search for candidates to replace Michael Flynn,” Politico reports.

“The list of possible replacements includes retired Gen. David Petraeus, who’s scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House this week… Other possibilities: Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser under President George W. Bush; Tom Bossert, who also served as a national security aide under Bush and now oversees cybersecurity under Trump; Adm. James Stavridis, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts; and Department of Homeland Security head John Kelly.”

White House Still Not Coming to Flynn’s Defense

“Michael Flynn’s position as President Trump’s national security adviser appeared to be in peril on Monday as Democrats stepped up their attacks and the White House remained stonily silent,” The Hill reports.

“Sensing blood on the water, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called the revelations that Flynn spoke about sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office — and then allegedly misled Vice President Mike Pence about it — ‘proof he should not be entrusted with our national security.’ Meanwhile, reports of turmoil at the National Security Council gave further ammunition to longtime critics of Flynn who believe him to be a loose cannon.”

USA Today: “Trump himself, caught in the hallway by reporters, declined to answer questions about whether he still has confidence in Flynn.”

Mixed Signals on Whether Flynn Will Survive

Mike Allen: “Any purge will begin with national security adviser Mike Flynn, for lying to Vice President Pence about contacts with Russia on sanctions. In retrospect, that was clear as soon as Trump told reporters Friday evening on Air Force One that he didn’t know about the story, which had been on the front page of that morning’s Washington Post. It was a way for Trump to dodge showing support for Flynn.”

Said one top source: “Spread the butter: He is toast. Lying to Pence damaged Pence’s credibility and the administration’s. That is an unpardonable sin.”

However, a top administration official tells CNN that Flynn has no plans to resign and there are “no expectations that he will be fired.”

Flynn’s Position In White House Grows Tenuous

“The White House is reviewing whether to retain National Security Adviser Mike Flynn amid a furor over his contacts with Russian officials before President Trump took office,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mr. Flynn has apologized to White House colleagues over the episode, which has created a rift with Vice President Mike Pence and diverted attention from the administration’s message to his own dealings, the official said.”

“Mr. Trump’s views toward the matter aren’t clear. In recent days, he has privately told people the controversy surrounding Mr. Flynn is unwelcome.”

Washington Post: “Privately, some administration officials said that Flynn’s position has weakened and support for him has eroded largely because of a belief that he was disingenuous about Russia and therefore could not be fully trusted going forward.”

White House Keeps Doubts Alive About Flynn

The ominous silence around National Security Advisor Michael Flynn deepened as senior White House adviser Stephen Miller declined to say if the president still has confidence in him, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Miller’s silence on Flynn was significant because the White House had booked him on several of the major Sunday television interview programs as the administration’s spokesperson this weekend. White House officials appear to have deliberately chosen Miller, whose portfolio does not include foreign policy, in part to avoid having to give a definitive answer about Flynn.”

“Flynn’s future with the administration is at issue because of indications that he may have misled his colleagues, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the weeks before Trump’s inauguration. That would normally be a severe problem for someone in Flynn’s position, but Trump may not want to appear to be dropping an aide under pressure from the media and Democratic critics.”

Christie Hits Flynn for Conversations with Russia

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) criticized President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, “saying he needs to clear up questions about whether he discussed sanctions in his pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States,” CNN reports.

Said Christie: “That’s a conversation he is going to need to have with the President and the vice president to clear that up, so that the White House can make sure that they are completely accurate about what went on.”

CIA Freezes Out Top Flynn Aide

“A top deputy to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was rejected for a critical security clearance, effectively ending his tenure on the National Security Council and escalating tensions between Flynn and the intelligence community,” Politico reports.

“The move came as Flynn’s already tense relationships with others in the Trump administration and the intelligence community were growing more fraught after reports that Flynn had breached diplomatic protocols in his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.”

Flynn Discussed Russian Sanctions Despite Denials

“National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials,” the Washington Post reports.

“Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.”

Bannon Seizes Role from Flynn

New York Times: “People close to Mr. Bannon said he is not accumulating power for power’s sake, but is instead helping to fill a staff leadership vacuum created, in part, by Mr. Flynn’s stumbling performance as national security adviser.”

“Mr. Flynn, a lifelong Democrat sacked as head of the Pentagon’s intelligence arm after clashing with Obama administration officials in 2014, has gotten on the nerves of Mr. Trump and other administration officials because of his sometimes overbearing demeanor, and has further diminished his internal standing by presiding over a chaotic and opaque N.S.C. transition process that prioritized the hiring of military officials over civilian experts recommended to him by his own team.”