President Trump’s attempt to blame President Obama for giving Gen. Michel Flynn a security clearance turns out to be another one of his lies.
Before he was chosen as Trump’s National Security Advisor, the Trump transition team – led by Vice President Mike Pence – and the White House vetted Flynn, and even knew he was doing work for Turkey, according to a report by NBC News and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
“They became aware of that shortly after he wrote that Election Day column about the Turkish government and its interests,” Maddow said on her program. “That, of course, should have raised red flags, but they hired him anyway. They knew. And they hired him anyway and then after they fired him they said, ‘Oh, no, we had no idea.’ Why would they lie about that?”
Maddow said the vetting process by the Trump team before his inaugural as President was done “done very casually.” Flynn had connections to Russia and was being paid by Turkey during the same period he worked for Trump.
In March, Pence told Fox News that was it was news to him about Flynn’s international connections.
“Let me say,” Pence told Fox News host Brett Baier, “hearing that story today was the first I heard of it. And I fully support the decision that President Trump made to ask for General Flynn’s resignation.”
The vetting was done after Pence took over as head of the presidential transition team in November 2016. Shortly after he took charge, Pence got a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asking about news reports Flynn had lobbied for a foreign government, so Pence knew there was an issue.
Even before the inauguration, the White House knew Flynn might have to register as an agent of a foreign government, according to the Associated Press.
“Flynn’s representatives had a second conversation with Trump lawyers after the inauguration and made clear the national security advisor would indeed be registering with the Justice Department,” reports the AP. “The White House official said the counsel’s office had no recollection of that second discussion.”
Flynn did finally register as an agent of the Turkish government in March 2017, long after he was fired.
Recently, both Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, denied that they had vetted Flynn, instead blaming President Obama for not vetting him when he served as director of Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 until Obama fired him in 2014.
“Just remember,” Trump told anchor Martha MacCallum last Friday on the Fox News Channel, “he was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level of security So when he came into our administration, for a short period of time, he came in, he was already approved by the Obama administration and he had years left on that approval.”
Last Thursday, during his White House press briefing, Spicer also blamed President Obama for not properly looking into Flynn:
“My only point is that when General Flynn came into the White House he had an active security clearance issued during the Obama administration with all of the information that’s being discussed that occurred in 2015.”
Last week, sources said that the Pentagon was investigating undisclosed speaking engagements for which Flynn was paid $30,000 by a Russian state-sponsored television network without receiving permission in advance as required. He reportedly had been warned in 2014 against taking payments without permission.
Flynn had been fired by Trump for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his ties to Russia. Even after that, Trump called Flynn “a wonderful man” who was treated unfairly by the news media.
This continues a pattern by Trump of blaming President Obama for his own failures and the shortcomings of the people he picked for his transition and to be in his administration.
If only the American people had vetted Trump more carefully when he was on the campaign trail making numerous promises about domestic and international policy, including everything from health care to tax reform, all of which has proven to be false, misleading and a huge lie.
Flynn was a problem, but it is Trump who remains the real problem.