Some news from what one can only hope is the beginning of an eventual end for the Trump presidency: former national security adviser Michael Flynn told the Trump transition team that he was under investigation for secretly working as a foreign agent for Turkey “weeks” before the inauguration, but Donald Trump hired him as national security adviser anyway.
Flynn reportedly disclosed this information to transition team lawyer Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House’s chief counsel on January 4, the New York Times reports. The sources cited in the Times report note that Flynn notified the Trump transition team about a month after he himself learned he was under investigation. Despite this information, which would be reason enough not to give him the job in the first place, Trump gave him the job, which allowed him access to not only to the president, but to “nearly every secret held by American intelligence agencies.”
This revelation, which would be startling in calmer times, is made somewhat worse because of the other small detail it brings to light—the Trump campaign knew about the federal investigation into Flynn’s lobbying activities way earlier than had been reported. Another wrinkle in this disaster comes via McClatchy, who reports that in the early months of Trump’s presidency, Flynn’s priorities were already influenced by his secret lobbying work for Turkey.
Ten days before the inauguration, Flynn had a conversation with Susan Rice, former national security adviser for President Barack Obama, about the Pentagon’s plan to retake Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic state. Obama’s security team asked for Trump’s sign-off, as the plan would likely take place after Trump’s inauguration. Flynn reportedly told Rice to hold off, a decision that was “consistent with the wishes of Turkey,” a country that was paying Flynn over $500,000 that no one else knew about.
Ever the paranoiac, Flynn reportedly believes that the investigation into his background is part of a vast conspiracy plot waged against him by whoever’s left in government from the Obama administration to keep him out of the White House.
From the Times:
In his view, this effort began immediately after the election, when President Barack Obama, who had fired Mr. Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Mr. Trump that he would have profound concerns about Mr. Flynn’s becoming a top national security aide.
The people close to Mr. Flynn said he believed that when that warning did not dissuade Mr. Trump from making him national security adviser, the Justice Department opened its investigation into his lobbying work.
Despite the fact that Flynn was a demonstrably poor choice for the position for which he was hired, Donald Trump ignored the giant, flapping red flags attached to Flynn’s person and asked James Comey to see if he could find it in his heart to drop this whole federal investigation, because Flynn’s a “good guy.” Clearly those impassioned pleas did not work. Flynn is currently at the center of special counsel and former FBI director Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the election. Also, Flynn offered to testify in the investigation in exchange for immunity. What is he hiding? When will we find out? If he just tells us all the things, will this nightmare start to wind its way to a close?