President Trump was quick to rewrite history on Friday morning after Fox News referenced a past report that his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who ended up cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, was under investigation even before his infamous conversations with the Russian ambassador.
It appears that Trump was watching Fox News on Air Force One when the tweet was posted a little more than 15 minutes after a segment on the unsealed Flynn file that came out Thursday, revealing portions of what Flynn shared with federal investigators. In the segment, Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy discussed the findings that came out of the House Intelligence Committee months back that revealed Flynn was under investigation for his trip to Moscow and his work for the Turkish government, even before his fateful conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016.
In a damage-control tweet, Trump claimed that there was no way he could have possibly known about Flynn’s issues before hiring him to serve in his administration. He then questioned why he was never informed “so that I could make a change.”
It now seems the General Flynn was under investigation long before was common knowledge. It would have been impossible for me to know this but, if that was the case, and with me being one of two people who would become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 17, 2019
The problem? Trump was warned about Flynn by his predecessor shortly after his 2016 victory.
Less than two days after President Trump was elected, former President Barack Obama sat down with Trump for a 90-minute conversation in the Oval Office. During that meeting, Obama warned Trump that he should not hire Flynn as his national security adviser. Former Obama officials told NBC in 2017 that Obama’s warning was centered on Flynn’s mismanagement issues and his temperament when he was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Obama administration. Flynn was fired from that post in 2014.
While it wasn’t until after Flynn had already been hired, Trump was also warned by two different officials — whom he later fired — in early January that Flynn was under investigation.
During her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates said she warned a member of the Trump administration about Flynn’s interviews with the FBI as early as Jan. 24, 2017. During her first in-person meeting with White House counsel Don McGahn, Yates told Trump’s top legal adviser that Flynn was under investigation.
According to the memos recorded by former FBI Director James Comey before his firing, Trump had doubts about Flynn just eight days after taking office. Trump expressed to Comey that Flynn had “serious judgment issues” when Trump learned that Flynn hadn’t told him about a phone call he received from a foreign world leader before his congratulatory call with UK Prime Minister Theresa May in late January 2017. The Wall Street Journal later reported that the leader in question was Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While Flynn only served in the administration for 24 days, it took the White House 18 days to get rid of Flynn after it was first informed of the FBI’s investigation.
This post originally reported that Putin called Flynn in May 2016, during the presidential campaign. The call was reportedly during at some point during the transition or after he first took office. We regret the error.