A timeline of all the bizarre twists and turns.
On Wednesday, not one but two bombshells exploded concerning Michael Flynn, the national security adviser President Donald Trump was compelled to fire after only 22 days on the job. The New York Times reported that on January 4—weeks before the inauguration—Flynn informed Trump’s transition team that he was under Justice Department investigation for his undisclosed lobbying work on behalf of Turkish interests. And McClatchy revealed that six days later, Flynn attended a meeting with Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, and asked her to delay a planned US-Kurdish military operation against a top ISIS target, an action that Turkey, which had opposed joint US-Kurdish operations, would not have supported.
Together these two stories present a stunning scenario: Trump’s team allowed a lobbyist for foreign interests who was under federal investigation to become the president’s top national security aide and to participate in decision-making related to his lobbying.
The story gets worse. It was 16 days after Flynn’s meeting with Rice that Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, informed the Trump White House that Flynn had lied about conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding the sanctions Obama imposed on Moscow for its covert intervention in the 2016 campaign. Yates also warned Don McGahn, the White House counsel, that Flynn was now vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Still, the White House kept Flynn in the job for another 18 days. It was only after the extent of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak was publicly exposed by a Washington Post story that Trump fired him. (On Thursday morning, Yahoo News reported that on April 25, Flynn told a group of friends that Trump had recently sent him a message: Stay strong.)
Flynn, who has offered to testify before Congress if granted immunity from prosecution, has emerged as central figure in the Russia scandal enveloping the Trump administration. The retired lieutenant general who led “lock her up” chants during the presidential campaign is currently under investigation on several fronts. The Justice Department is probing his Turkish lobbying, and the FBI is investigating his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and transition period. The Senate intelligence committee recently subpoenaed Flynn for records of his Russian contacts.
The latest Flynn revelations are a tremendous blow for a White House already reeling from the Trump-Russia scandal, the news that Trump disclosed highly sensitive top-secret information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, and the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller. The Flynn affair, which has the potential to derail Trump’s presidency, is full of twists and turns, and it seems like there’s more to come. Here’s how it has unfolded so far.