Michael Flynn

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.”

Flynn Creating Military-Heavy National Security Council

Josh Rogin: “President Trump is filling the government’s national security leadership with former military officials and businessmen, rejecting the policy and academic types both parties have traditionally relied on. But the militarization of the Trump foreign policy team is even more concentrated on the White House staff led by national security adviser Michael T. Flynn — and it has observers both inside and outside the administration concerned.”

“Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, is steadily assembling the most military-heavy National Security Council staff of the modern era. His effort stems from two motivations… First, he wants people he knows and trusts. More broadly, Flynn believes that the Obama administration’s NSC staff had a dearth of real war-fighting experience, resulting in bad policy decisions and poor follow-through, especially when combating terrorist groups abroad.”

Trump Transition Team Contacted Russian Official

According to a senior U.S. government official, incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking, the Washington Post reports.

“What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions? The Logan Act (though never enforced) bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about “disputes” with the United States. Was its spirit violated? The Trump campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Rivalry Brewing on Trump Team

“Donald Trump’s nomination of James Mattis as Defense secretary is sparking questions about how well the retired Marine general will get along with Mike Flynn, the three-star general set to be national security adviser,” The Hill reports.

“Trump has a history of setting up rivalries among his advisers, and it appears he’s likely to have a big one on his national security team.”

“Flynn reportedly sought to block Mattis’s nomination because he did not want a general with higher ranking than him in the Cabinet. And according to the Washington Post, a power struggle has already begun between the Trump transition team and Mattis over who should serve in top slots at the Pentagon.”

Flynn Regularly Spreads Fake News

Incoming Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn “has used social media to promote a series of outrageous conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and their inner circles in recent months — pushing dubious factoids at least 16 times since Aug. 9,” Politico reports.

“Flynn, who has 106,000 Twitter followers, has used the platform to retweet accusations that Clinton is involved with child sex trafficking and has ‘secretly waged war’ on the Catholic Church, as well as charges that Obama is a ‘jihadi’ who ‘laundered’ money for Muslim terrorists.”

“Now some say Flynn’s fondness for spreading fake news casts doubt on his fitness to serve as the White House’s national security adviser, suggesting that he either can’t spot a blatant falsehood or is just ideologically bent to believe the worst of his perceived enemies.”

The Disruptive Career of Michael Flynn

The New Yorker profiles President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn:

Flynn broke rules he thought were stupid. He once told me about a period he spent assigned to a C.I.A. station in Iraq, when he would sometimes sneak out of the compound without the “insane” required approval from C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia. He had technicians secretly install an Internet connection in his Pentagon office, even though it was forbidden. There was also the time he gave classified information to NATO allies without approval, an incident which prompted an investigation, and a warning from superiors. During his stint as Mullen’s intelligence chief, Flynn would often write “This is bullshit!” in the margins of classified papers he was obliged to pass on to his boss, someone who saw these papers told me.

The greatest accomplishment of Flynn’s military career was revolutionizing the way that the clandestine arm of the military, the Joint Special Operations Command, undertook the killing and capture of suspected terrorists and insurgents in war zones. Stanley McChrystal, Flynn’s mentor, had tapped him for the job. They were both part of the self-described “Irish mafia” of officers at the Fort Bragg Army base, in North Carolina.