Politics

Report: Obama Warned Trump Against Hiring Flynn

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

Just days after the November election, then-President Obama warned then-President Elect Donald Trump against hiring Michael Flynn as national security adviser, NBC News reports.

Obama gave Trump the warning during a 90-minute meeting in the Oval Office on Nov. 10, three former Obama administration officials told NBC.

The network did not report details of what was said during the conversation, but Trump went on to hire Flynn on Nov. 18.

Following the Oval Office meeting, Obama said he had an “excellent” and “wide-ranging” conversation with Trump. The Republican called Obama a “good man,” and said that they “discussed a lot of different situations — some wonderful, and some difficulties.”

A Trump administration official confirmed to NBC that Obama made it clear to Trump that he “was not a fan” of Flynn. Another Trump official said they thought Obama was joking with the remark.

There are conflicting reports about why Obama was so concerned about Flynn.

NBC reported that Obama believed Flynn was not suitable for the top national security advisory role. The New York Times reported that Obama’s wariness stemmed from Flynn’s poor performance as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Obama hired Flynn as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012. He was fired less than two years later, in Aug. 2014, reportedly due to management issues and because of rifts with other Obama administration officials.

Conflicting with the NBC News and Times report was CNN’s report that Obama was concerned because, according to one source, Flynn’s “name kept popping up” in relation to the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the election.

The news of the Obama warning comes just hours before former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee about her conversations with the Trump White House regarding Flynn.

Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, joined the Trump campaign in early 2016 and became the most prominent former military officer in Trump’s orbit.

Yates will reportedly testify that she warned White House counsel Donald McGahn on Jan. 26 that Flynn had given misleading statements about conversations he had in December with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Yates was fired several days later for refusing to comply with Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Trump ended up firing Flynn on Feb. 13. The White House’s stated reason was that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence by claiming that he did not discuss U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak.

Transcripts of the phone calls — which are classified — reportedly show that Flynn and Kislyak did discuss sanctions which the Obama administration had put on Russia for meddling with the election.

Earlier on Monday, Trump attempted to tie Flynn to Obama, pointing out that Flynn was granted top secret clearances by the Obama administration.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) approved Flynn’s security clearance in Jan. 2016 after a routine review. But Flynn may have failed to disclose a $45,000 payment he received the month before from the Russia-owned news outlet, Russia Today.

Flynn attended a gala hosted by the network in Moscow. He sat at a table with Russian president Vladimir Putin. DIA has said it does not have records of Flynn seeking permission for that payment, a measure he is required to take as a former military officer.

This article has been updated with additional details.

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