This file photo taken on February 1, 2017 shows US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn speaking during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC.
NICHOLAS KAMM

Trump struggles to explain Michael Flynn controversy

Perhaps the president could explain what he considers an “emergency.”
President Donald Trump defended the delay in firing former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in exclusive interview on Thursday with NBC News’ Lester Holt.

There was an 18-day gap between the heads up from former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates regarding Flynn’s activities with the Russians and his removal by the White House.

“(White House counsel Don) McGahn came back to me and did not sound like an emergency,” Trump said of Yates’ information about Flynn.
Hmm. President Obama had warned Trump about Michael Flynn; there were multiple news accounts on Flynn receiving money from Russia; and then the acting U.S. Attorney General warned the White House – multiple times – that the White House National Security Advisor had been compromised by Russia and was vulnerable to a foreign adversary’s blackmail.

Trump heard this and thought it “did not sound like an emergency.” In fact, the president decided to do nothing and continued to provide Flynn with access to the nation’s most sensitive secrets.

In yesterday’s interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, Trump added, “This man (Flynn) has served for many years, he’s a general, he’s a – in my opinion – a very good person. I believe that it would be very unfair to hear from somebody who we don’t even know and immediately run out and fire a general.”

Even for Trump, this is bizarre. The person “we don’t even know” referred to Sally Yates, who happens to be the Justice Department official that Trump named as acting Attorney General. She’s also the one who told Trump’s White House that Flynn was not only compromised, and not only lying about his Russian contacts, but that the “underlying conduct” Flynn was lying about was itself problematic.

And yet, at this point, Trump is still defending Flynn.

As for why, exactly, the president is so inclined to praise the former NSA he fired, Rachel noted an interesting article in The Atlantic, published yesterday.
“I think he’s worried about [Mike] Flynn,” said one source close to the White House, referring to Trump’s former National Security Adviser who has offered to testify before Congress.

“[Trump] has questioned whether or not he should have fired Flynn. They don’t know what Flynn’s going to say.”
Flynn, you’ll recall, is seeking an immunity deal, and his lawyer has said the former National Security Advisor “certainly has a story to tell” and he’s eager to tell it.

The Daily Beast reported this week, meanwhile, that White House lawyers “have had to warn” Trump “repeatedly” against reaching out to Flynn. Perhaps the president is reaching out in his own way through the media?

Donald Trump, Russia and Scandals

Trump struggles to explain Michael Flynn controversy