Obama Warned Trump about Michael Flynn’s Russia Ties, Ex Officials Claim

Then US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) is seen here attending a press conference with US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 13 February 2017. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • Former US President Barack Obama warned his successor Trump about the alleged Russian connections of Michael Flynn, Trump’s first National Security Adviser.
  • Warning has been revealed by former Obama Administration officials, and confirmed by Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
  • US Defense Intelligence Agency did not know Flynn had received a payment by a Russian state-run media outlet when it renewed his security clearance in April 2016, former officials say.
  • Former acting US Attorney General Sally Yates has told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee she had warned Trump’s staff that Flynn “could be blackmailed by the Russians.”
  • Flynn was sacked by Trump more than 2 weeks after Yates’ warning.

The administration of former US President Barack Obama warned his successor Donald Trump against appointing Michael Flynn as his national security adviser over Flynn’s alleges ties to Russia.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was fired in February as US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, less than a month after his appointment, over his undisclosed contacts with the Russian Ambassador in Washington, D.C., Sergei Kislyak.

The FBI and the intelligence committees of both houses of the US Congress are presently investigating whether Trump’s associates were in contact with Russian officials during the 2016 US Presidential Elections campaign.

Flynn recently offered to testify on the possible Russian connections of the Trump campaign in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

In January 2017, the US intelligence community voiced its conclusions that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered hackers to use cybercrime in order to sway the 2016 US vote in favor of Donald Trump, to the detriment of his rival Hillary Clinton.

Also in January, a leaked dossier authored by a former MI6 agent alleged that Moscow had compromising materials on Trump that could be used to blackmail him.

Trump’s positive comments about Russian leader Putin both before and after he assumed office as President of the United States have caused additional concerns.

Reports have claimed that the US and UK intelligence had concerns about Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia even before his appointment as National Security Adviser by Trump.

After he resigned from the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in 2014, Flynn became a contributor to RT, formerly known as Russia Today, the English-language mouthpiece of the Kremlin, widely considered as one of its overarching propaganda tools.

In summer 2015, Flynn met Trump for the first time after being invited to do so by his team.

The same year he received about USD 45,000 for attending RT’s gala dinner in Moscow, where he sat next to Putin. Flynn also accepted USD 11,250 from two Russian firms for speaking engagements in Washington. One of them was Kaspersky Lab, a cybersecurity company with ties to the Kremlin.

Obama’s Warning

Former US President Barack Obama made it clear he did not support Michael Flynn during a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump, the White House said on Monday, NBC News reported.

“It’s true that the President, President Obama, made it known that he wasn’t exactly a fan of General Flynn’s,” during their one-hour meeting, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a news briefing.

Obama and Trump met at the Oval Office on Nov. 10, two days after the Republican’s election victory.

Earlier three former Obama administration officials told NBC News that former President Obama warned President Donald Trump about Michael Flynn.

The warning, which has not been previously reported, came less than 48 hours after the November election when the two sat down for a 90-minute conversation in the Oval Office.

A senior Trump administration official acknowledged Monday that Obama raised the issue of Flynn, saying the former president made clear he was “not a fan of Michael Flynn.” Another official said Obama’s remark seemed like it was made in jest.

According to all three former officials, Obama warned Trump against hiring Flynn. The Obama administration fired Flynn in 2014 from his position as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, largely because of mismanagement and temperament issues.

Obama’s warning pre-dated the concerns inside the government about Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador, one of the officials said.

Obama passed along a general caution that he believed Flynn was not suitable for such a high level post, the official added.

Two administration officials said Obama also warned Trump to stay vigilant on North Korea.

Two US officials told NBC News that the Defense Intelligence Agency did not know Flynn had received a payment by a Russian state-run media outlet when when it renewed his security clearance in April 2016.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (R) and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (L) appear before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing entitled, ‘Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election’, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, 08 May 2017. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

‘Russians Have Leverage’

Later on Monday, Sally Yates, who was briefly the acting US Attorney General earlier this year, said she had warned US President Donald Trump’s White House in January about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn because she feared he could have been open to blackmail by Russia, Reuters reported.

On January 26, Yates, originally appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had not been telling the truth about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to Washington.

Yates had said she feared Moscow could try to blackmail Flynn because it also knew he was not being truthful about conversations with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak about US sanctions on Russia.

Yates told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Monday that she had been concerned that “the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.” She testified alongside former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Logic would tell you that you don’t want the national security adviser to be in a position where the Russians have leverage over him,” she said.

Trump waited more than two weeks after the warning before firing Flynn for failing to disclose the content of his talks with Kislyak and then misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

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