White House again blamed Barack Obama for Michael Flynn’s guilty plea
CNN has reported that The White House said on Friday that it was the Obama administration that authorized former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during President Trump’s transition
Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kislyak in the month before Trump took office, the first current or former Trump White House official brought down by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
Court records indicate that his communications with Kislyak were directed by a Trump transition official, with multiple news outlets reporting that official was Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.
“They are saying here at the White House that Flynn’s conversations with Sergey Kisylak were quote ‘authorized’ by the Obama administration,” CNN correspondent Jim Acosta said.
“We should point out, that is something that we have not heard before in terms of a defense from this White House,” he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
James Clapper, who served as the Director of National Intelligence under Obama, said that the claim that the Obama administration authorized Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak was “absurd,” adding that the administration was concerned by the communications at the time.
“That’s absurd. That’s absolutely absurd,” Clapper said on CNN.
“There was great concern at the time, not just with this particular contact, but with the violation of the principle that historically been followed of one president, one administration at a time,” he added. “So to say that we blessed it, or acquiesced it is a stretch.”
In a statement released shortly after he entered his guilty plea, Flynn acknowledged that he is cooperating with Mueller’s probe into Russian interference during last year’s election and any coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
According to court documents, Flynn lied to investigators when he told them that he did not ask Kislyak to refrain from retaliating against U.S. sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in response to the Russian meddling.
Flynn also lied when he told the FBI that he did not lobby Kislyak to oppose or delay a United Nations Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements, a resolution strongly condemned by Trump.
Flynn resigned from the Trump White House in February — just 24 days into office — after it was reported that he misled Vice President Pence and other officials about his contacts with Kislyak.