INSIDE THE 25 DAYS THAT SHOOK THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY.
By NBC News Correspondent Carol Lee
PLEASE CREDIT: NBC NEWS
It’s been more than 1,000 days since Gen. Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor and a mere eight days since President Trump tweeted that he would issue Flynn a pardon.
NBC News Correspondent Carol Lee takes an in-depth look at the controversial figure, one of the first Trump associates to be ensnared in the Russia investigation, and the 25 days that shook the Trump presidency.
Lee’s reporting spans three years and includes interviews with more than 20 current and former officials across the Trump administration who were directly involved in uncovering or covering up Flynn’s actions.
The 7,900-word deep-dive report pulls together the definitive, comprehensive timeline and examination of Flynn’s time as Trump’s National Security Adviser and sheds light on key moments that defined his brief tenure and the events that led to his pardoning.
Read the full story from Carol Lee at NBCNews.com/MichaelFlynn.
- Trump began to sour on Flynn during the transition, for bringing bad press, and it got worse in the White House. One senior White House official described it as “a personality clash.” “He couldn’t stand Mike Flynn,” another senior White House official said. “He wanted to fire Flynn before he even got to the White House.”
- Trump’s pardon abruptly capped nearly four years of legal and political drama that began when Trump fired a national security adviser he’d come to privately disparage and ended with the White House declaring Flynn “an innocent man.” But it changes nothing about why Flynn was fired: “Everyone’s forgetting that Flynn was fired because he was lying to everyone,” one senior White House official directly involved with the Flynn matter said recently. “After weeks of asking him, he was still saying he never talked to the Russian ambassador about sanctions.”
- A comprehensive examination of his time as Trump’s national security adviser, including interviews with more than 20 people who were directly involved in uncovering or covering up his actions, suggests that Flynn knowingly misled investigators and the president’s inner circle repeatedly.
- After Yates’ warnings to the White House, “no one looked into it” with any urgency, a senior White House official at the time said.
- When Flynn changed his story to say he couldn’t recall, his colleagues were livid. Angry confrontations ensued. “What the f— is going on?” then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked Flynn. Flynn responded that he now wasn’t completely sure if sanctions had come up in the Kislyak call. “Well, you told me that didn’t happen, so which is it?” Priebus said to Flynn, who responded again that he was unsure.
- Pence’s aide, Marc Lotter walked over to the West Wing to tell the spokesman for the National Security Council: “We have a problem.” Lotter said Flynn had “essentially made the Vice President of the United States a liar.” Pence was described as “smoldering” as he was comparing transcript of his interview on CBS and transcripts of Kislyak and Flynn’s calls.
- Trump worried about how firing Flynn would reflect on him. “It’s going to make me look bad,” he told his advisers. “We’re going to look like a bunch of clowns.”
- Yet even four years later, officials who worked with Flynn in the White House at the time – who asked him repeatedly for weeks if he’d talked about sanctions with Kislyak and were told no – the mystery still lingers: why wasn’t he honest with them? “The biggest question that’s never been answered is why didn’t he tell everyone in the West Wing that he talked to him about sanctions?” one official said. “Because no one would have cared if he did.”
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