Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn arrives at Trump Tower, Nov. 17, 2016. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and high level positions for the new administration. 
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

Trump’s security advisor faced accusations of sharing secrets

Reince Priebus, who’ll soon become Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, offered a curious defense yesterday of his boss’ habit of skipping intelligence briefings. Priebus explained that the president-elect may not always bother with a presidential daily briefing, but Trump nevertheless has “intelligence briefings every day.”

For Team Trump, that’s not a contradiction. As the transition team’s communications director later explained, Trump may miss the occasional presidential daily briefing put together by U.S. intelligence agencies, but he receives daily updates on security issues from retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor.

That’s not reassuring. This is after all, the same Michael Flynn who believes bizarre conspiracy theories, who’s repeatedly disseminated fake news as if it were real, whose former aides were so troubled by his false claims they came up with the “Flynn Facts” euphemism, and who, according to a new Washington Post report, “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers in 2010.
Flynn has previously acknowledged that he was investigated while serving as the U.S. military intelligence chief in Afghanistan for sharing secrets with British and Australian allies there. But he has dismissed the case as insignificant and has given few details.

The Army documents provide the first official account of the case, but they are limited in scope because the investigation itself remains classified. Former U.S. officials familiar with the matter said that Flynn was accused of telling allies about the activities of other agencies in Afghanistan, including the CIA.

The Army files call into question Flynn’s prior assertion that he had permission to share the sensitive information…. The Army documents, however, state explicitly that the Central Command investigation determined that Flynn did not have permission to share the particular secrets he divulged. The Defense Department’s inspector general, which conducted an independent review of the investigation, came to the same conclusion, the documents show.
Remember, Flynn spent much of 2016 attacking Hillary Clinton for having a private email server – which, he claimed, amounted to the mishandling of sensitive information.

He neglected to mention that he’d been accused of sharing U.S. secrets during a war with foreign countries without permission.

It’s worth emphasizing that Flynn wasn’t punished for his actions, and according to Army records, there was “no actual or potential damage to national security as a result” of his actions. He was even promoted after the incident, though an investigation delayed the process.

But given the broader concerns about Flynn’s fitness to be the National Security Advisor to the next president, and in light of his own bizarre rhetoric about Clinton, revelations like these don’t exactly inspire confidence in his abilities.