U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016. 
Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump ignored Obama’s good advice about Mike Flynn

Updated
For Donald Trump, the controversy surrounding Michael Flynn, the White House National Security Advisor who was fired after three weeks on the job, is an ongoing problem for which there is no obvious solution. Trump’s Russia scandal casts a cloud over his presidency, and Flynn is very much at the center of the mess, having lied about his contacts with Russian officials.

With this in mind, the Republican president has a solution he’s very fond of: arguing this is all Barack Obama’s fault. Trump has repeatedly referenced the fact that Flynn had a security clearance during his predecessor’s administration, which Trump sees as stunning evidence of … something.

Even at face value, the talking point is a little silly, even for this White House. Yes, when Flynn served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he had a security clearance. But Obama fired Flynn, and soon after, he joined Trump’s team. It wasn’t Obama’s idea for Flynn to become a member of Trump’s inner circle, just as it wasn’t Obama’s idea for Trump to make Flynn Trump’s NSA.

Making matters worse, NBC News reports today that Obama specifically warned Trump not to hire Flynn – which was good advice the Republican just didn’t take.
Former President Obama warned President Donald Trump against hiring Mike Flynn as his national security adviser, three former Obama administration officials tell NBC News.

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…. 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.
Trump administration officials have now acknowledged that Obama did share his concerns about Flynn with Trump directly during their private post-election chat, but one senior official said the incoming administration thought the comments were “made in jest.”

Oh. One president warned his successor about a possible White House National Security Advisor, and this was dismissed as an attempt at humor – as if this is the sort of thing Obama would joke about.

Consider how much better off Trump would’ve been if he’d taken Obama’s recommendations seriously.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/5/17, 9:21 PM ET

Trump camp warned Flynn about Russia contacts, Obama team wary

Rachel Maddow relays late news reports that the Trump transition team warned Mike Flynn about his contacts with Russians, and the Obama team was so wary of the Trump camp’s Russia ties that according to NBC News they gave only hours notice before…
Rachel Maddow relays late news reports that the Trump transition team warned Mike Flynn about his contacts with Russians, and the Obama team was so wary of the Trump camp’s Russia ties that according to NBC News they gave only hours notice before…
As Rachel noted on Friday’s show, this comes on the heels of reports that Flynn was specifically warned about possible communications with Russian officials during the presidential transition process, before he had the chats anyway, An Associated Press report added:
In late November, a member of Donald Trump’s transition team approached national security officials in the Obama White House with a curious request: Could the incoming team get a copy of the classified CIA profile on Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States?

Marshall Billingslea, a former Pentagon and NATO official, wanted the information for his boss, Michael Flynn, who had been tapped by Trump to serve as White House national security adviser. Billingslea knew Flynn would be speaking to Kislyak, according to two former Obama administration officials, and seemed concerned Flynn did not fully understand he was dealing with a man rumored to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

To the Obama White House, Billingslea’s concerns were startling: a member of Trump’s own team suggesting the incoming Trump administration might be in over its head in dealing with an adversary.

The request now stands out as a warning signal for Obama officials who would soon see Flynn’s contacts with the Russian spiral into a controversy that would cost him his job and lead to a series of shocking accusations hurled by Trump against his predecessor’s administration. In the following weeks, the Obama White House would grow deeply distrustful of Trump’s dealing with the Kremlin and anxious about his team’s ties. The concern – compounded by surge of new intelligence, including evidence of multiple calls, texts and at least one in-person meeting between Flynn and Kislyak – would eventually grow so great Obama advisers delayed telling Trump’s team about plans to punish Russia for its election meddling. Obama officials worried the incoming administration might tip off Moscow, according to one Obama adviser.
This round of reporting, meanwhile, follows evidence that Team Trump did do a background check on Flynn before he became NSA – a detail Team Trump hasn’t been entirely honest about – and the White House, without explanation, has been far from forthcoming when it comes to responding to requests from Congress for information about Flynn’s work.

And as I type, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is on Capitol Hill, talking to lawmakers about her warnings to the White House about Flynn, before Trump fired her. This scandal isn’t going away anytime soon.