Trump Wants Flynn Back in the White House

Michael Flynn 's Russia Scandal: What Did Trump Know and When?

Following the blockbuster story that Donald Trump reportedly asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating Michael Flynn (just before firing him no less), sources now report that Trump is not only still communicating with Flynn but wants to give him another position in the White House.

The Daily Beast reported today:

But Trump doesn’t just hope that Flynn will beat the rap. Several sources close to Flynn and to the administration tell The Daily Beast that Trump has expressed his hopes that a resolution of the FBI’s investigation in Flynn’s favor might allow Flynn to rejoin the White House in some capacity—a scenario some of Trump’s closest advisers in and outside the West Wing have assured him absolutely should not happen.

Those sources said Trump didn’t believe Flynn should be under investigation in the first place.

This comports with reporting from other mainstream outlets that have noted Trump never understood why he had to fire Flynn in the first place.

As we previously reported, Trump repeatedly spoke fondly of Flynn even after firing him from the National Security Adviser role.

“Michael Flynn, General Flynn is a wonderful man,” said Trump shortly after the termination in an appearance with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I think he has been treated very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it, the fake media, in many cases. And I think it is really a sad thing that he was treated so badly.”

In another meeting with reporters not long thereafter, Trump said of Flynn: “I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. With all that being said, I think he’s a fine man.”

Timeline

Given the long and ever-changing timeline of events that led up to the current state of the Trump administration, it’s important to remember the events that brought us here.

In the months before the November election, Michael Flynn had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence. In December 2016, those contacts crossed a legal line when Flynn discussed lifting or blocking sanctions against Russia. At the time, Flynn hadn’t yet assumed his role as National Security Adviser and was still acting as a private citizen (as he had been previously fired by the Obama administration).

Immediately after the election, President Obama warned Donald Trump against bringing on Michael Flynn citing concerns. Trump ignored this warning.

During the transition period leading up to January 20, 2017, the Trump transition team was repeatedly notified about Flynn’s potential conflicts both by Congress as well as Flynn’s own legal representation. Despite that, Vice President Mike Pence – who led the transition – decided not to conduct the extensive background check on Flynn all White House appointments must go through (as a standard security clearance is not sufficient to be National Security Adviser).

We previously reported on this:

Congress warned the Pence-led transition team about Flynn’s lobbying ties in November. In a letter sent from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) – the ranking Democrat on the committee – inquired explicitly about Flynn’s Turkish lobbying and payments from Russian state media.

“Lt. Gen. Flynn’s involvement in advising Mr. Trump on matters relating to Turkey or Russia – including attending classified briefings on those matters – could violate the Trump for America, Inc. Code of Ethical Conduct,” he wrote. That letter was dated November 18, 2017 – one day after Trump announced Flynn’s appointment.

Flynn’s own attorneys notified the transition team not once, but twice about that lobbying.

For Pence to say he had no idea about Flynn’s potential conflicts of interest isn’t just a falsehood – it’s an intentional lie.

Thereafter, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates offered the White House an urgent warning that Flynn could potentially be compromised by Russia – a warning the White House sat on for nearly three weeks while allowing Flynn full access to national security secrets.

Weeks passed as the nation learned more about Flynn – from his unregistered lobbying for Turkey to his potential financial connections to Russian oligarchs. In those weeks Trump called James Comey to the White House to demand his loyalty (and was denied).

Not long afterwards, Trump fired James Comey and later admitted the ongoing Russia probe played a part in that decision. We learned this week via a contemporaneous memo written by Comey that Trump asked him to stop investigating Michael Flynn.

Suffice to say, Trump has had Flynn on the mind since the very beginning. But that’s not all.

Trump Can’t Quit Flynn

“Trump feels really, really, really, bad about firing him, and he genuinely thinks if the investigation is over Flynn can come back,” a White House official told The Daily Beast.

They added:

Those investigations were why Trump’s White House attorneys warned him repeatedly against communicating with Flynn after his firing, as The Daily Beast reported last week.

Apparently, the president didn’t listen to his own lawyers.

The two have stayed in touch, according to a  Yahoo News  report Thursday,confirmed by multiple White House and administration sources.

One person close to Flynn say he has kept up lines of communication since offering his resignation to “protect the president” from the growing controversy involving the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian government interests.

The Daily Beast concluded:

Trump’s plea for the FBI to step back from its probe of Flynn set off allegations by congressional Democrats of potential obstruction of justice. Revelations that Trump has been in contact with Flynn—and openly mused about a new job for him—could add more heft to those allegations.

“The last thing [the White House] would want is an allegation of conspiracy, witness tampering or coordination,” national security attorney Mark Zaid told The Daily Beast last week. “If Flynn is going to be indicted, or certainly under investigation, then I would want the president to be as far away from him as possible.”

Such conversations would create “huge issues,” according to Zaid’s law partner, Brad Moss. “Talking with witnesses got Nixon in trouble.”

Perhaps more curious than Trump’s intentional ignorance about Flynn and the investigation into his activities is the fact that he – and his family – had to convince the embattled former National Security Adviser to join the incoming administration.

Trump Knew Before Day One

The Daily Beast noted:

resident Donald Trump pressured a “reluctant” Michael Flynn into accepting a job as the White House’s top national security official even after Flynn warned the president that he was under investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a foreign government, The Daily Beast has learned.

Forget Pence receiving information during the transition about these activities; Trump knew the moment he asked Michael Flynn to join his administration and didn’t see those conflicts of interest as being disqualifying. Loyalty took precedence over qualification from the very first moment.

The Daily Beast added:

Trump’s pressuring of Flynn to take the job came even though Flynn had informed the Trump transition team that he was under active FBI investigation over undisclosed lobbying on behalf of a Dutch company—lobbying that, Flynn now admits, may have advanced the interests of the Turkish government.

Trump’s pressuring of Flynn to take the post offers insight into the president’s continued loyalty to his ousted former aide—loyalty so strong that the two have remained in touch despite the potential that that communication could be portrayed as White House interference in a federal investigation.

Trump’s affinity for Flynn apparently led the president to urge former FBI director James Comey, before his firing last week, to drop or ease a federal investigation of Flynn, according to Comey’s written account of a meeting with the president.

Even as an independent special counsel begins his investigation into him, his campaign, and their potential collusion with a foreign adversary as that adversary engaged in cyber attacks on U.S. sovereignty, Donald Trump still reportedly believes Flynn will not only be cleared of all wrongdoing, but will be able to rejoin his administration.

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Tim Peacock is the Managing Editor and founder of Peacock Panache and has worked as a civil rights advocate for over twenty years. During that time he's worn several hats including leading on campus LGBT advocacy in the University of Missouri campus system, interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, and volunteering at advocacy organizations. You can learn more about him at his personal website.

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