A retired U.S. Army general who served 24 days in the White House is at the center of a yearlong saga spanning two presidencies — and possibly indicating a brewing scandal.
Michael Flynn lost jobs under Presidents Trump and Obama and is now yet another point of tension between the two leaders.
As of this week, Flynn’s actions have managed to mix conflicts with Trump, Obama, Russians and a former acting attorney general into one big storm that might also be related to the Trump campaign’s alleged Kremlin ties.
Here’s how it has all gone down so far:
April 17, 2012: President Barack Obama nominates Flynn, a U.S. Army lieutenant general who led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn takes over in July and, as part of his appointment, is given top-level security clearance.
April 30, 2014: Flynn announces his retirement from the DIA about a year earlier than expected. Media reports reveal that Flynn was effectively forced out over his combative management style and clashes over his attempted overhaul of the agency. The New Yorker later reports that DIA subordinates mocked Flynn for his loose relationship with the truth and said he spewed so-called “Flynn facts.” Flynn will become a vocal critic of Obama.
December 10, 2015: Flynn attends a Moscow gala for the Russian state-run news outlet RT, where he is seated next to the nation’s president, Vladimir Putin. Flynn gets paid $ 33,750 for his hour-long talk at the event.
January 2016: Despite getting pushed out by the Obama administration, Flynn has his security clearance renewed.
February 2016: Flynn begins serving as an adviser for the Trump campaign and will soon become one of its public fixtures. He will even be considered as a potential running mate. Speaking at the Republican National Convention in July, Flynn leads the crowd in anti-Hillary Clinton “Lock her up” chants and says in his speech, “If I did a tenth of what she did, I’d be in jail today.”
November 10, 2016: Less than 48 hours after the end of the election, Trump and Obama meet for the first time in Oval Office. NBC News reports in May that, in this conversation, Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn.
November 18, 2016: Trump hires Flynn as his national security adviser.
December 29, 2016: Flynn speaks with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak the same day the Obama administration announces sanctions on Russia over its alleged hacking of Clinton’s campaign. The FBI and Obama advisers are aware of the conversation.
January 22, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. counterintelligence agents are investigating communications between Flynn and Russian officials. Over the next three weeks, Flynn will initially say he does not recall the conversation, but he will gradually admit to the details in the report. Reports also show Flynn misled Vice President Pence about his talk with Kislyak.
January 31, 2017: Trump fires Sally Yates, the acting U.S. attorney general, after she tells the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s travel bans, which will later be halted by federal courts. After her ouster, multiple media reports indicate Yates warned White House officials about Flynn’s Russian relations and said they could become a serious issue. The White House denies this.
February 13, 2017:Facing continued scrunity over the Russia call, Flynn resigns 24 days into his tenure with Trump, departing as the short-serving national security adviser.
March 8, 2017: Flynn registers with the Justice Department as a foreign agent who did $ 530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day, on behalf of a Dutch company tied to the Turkish government. Flynn did this work even while advising the Trump campaign and sitting in one some of Trump’s classified security briefings.
March 30, 2017: The Wall Street Journal reports that Flynn had offered to testify before the FBI, Senate or House about the federal probe into Trump’s alleged Russia ties, if he is granted immunity from prosecution. Later reports indicate the offer was rejected.
May 8, 2017:On a day full of bombshells, Trump’s former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Yates testifies before a Senate committee that she told the White House about Flynn’s Russia talk 18 days before he resigned. She said she warned that Flynn “essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.” Meanwhile, the NBC News report reveals Obama’s November warning to Trump about Flynn, which was ignored.
Through it all, Trump and the White House continue denying a scandal with Flynn and blaming Obama for giving the retired general security clearance. But an explanation never emerges for why Trump waited so long to take action on Flynn’s Russia call.