Attorneys for Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, informed the incoming White House legal counsel during the transition that Flynn might need to register with the government as a foreign agent -- a phone call that raised no alarms within Trump's team, despite the unusual circumstance of having a top national security post filled by someone whose work may have benefited a foreign government.
March 11, 201723:08
The Associated Press reported that Flynn's attorneys twice alerted Team Trump to Flynn's paid work on behalf of Turkish interests.All of which makes it alarming that the White House is saying it had no idea what Flynn was up to.Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked, for example, if Trump was aware of the fact that Flynn was acting as a foreign agent when the president appointed him to serve as NSA. "I don't believe that that was known," Spicer replied.Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News on Friday the story published that day about Flynn's role as a foreign agent "was the first I heard of it." That, as Rachel noted on Friday's show, doesn't make any sense: not only were there multiple press accounts last fall about Flynn being paid by a foreign government, but Pence was directly notified, in writing, by a member of Congress during the presidential transition.Why in the world would the White House repeat falsehoods that are so easily discredited?Making matters slightly worse, when reporters started asking about Flynn's work during Friday's White House press briefing, Spicer said it'd be wrong to "start to impugn his integrity." That's an odd thing to say about a man the president fired for lying. Indeed, in the same briefing, Spicer himself said Flynn "betrayed the trust of the vice president." So why would it "impugn his integrity" to ask about Flynn's work as a foreign agent?Spicer added, in reference to Flynn's foreign work, "[T]here was no disclosure at the time.... I think we trust people to fill out the appropriate forms that they need to." That's not much of an answer. The White House has a responsibility to vet people before they're given powerful posts, and in this case, it seems the only people in the political world who were unaware of Flynn's foreign work were his colleagues on Team Trump.Postscript: In case this story weren't already weird enough, it appears Flynn paid a former FBI agent, Brian McCauley, tens of thousands of dollars during the 2016 campaign. McCauley was a tangential player in a Hillary Clinton email controversy.