WASHINGTON - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed on Monday the reports that former President Barack Obama had warned President Donald Trump not to hire General Mike Flynn as his National Security Adviser.
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"It's true that President Obama made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of General Flynn's," Spicer said during his daily press briefing. He added that he did not know if Obama raised any specific concerns regarding Flynn besides this general warning.
Just hours before the highly-anticipated testimony by former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, NBC reported that Obama warned Trump regarding Flynn.
Flynn's name has become a central part of the federal investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, which was the reason he abruptly quit the White House less than a month after Trump's inauguration.
On Monday morning, ahead of Yates' testimony on the subject before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Trump tried to distance himself from Flynn, who was one of his closest advisers during the election campaign who was then appointed to one of the most senior security-related positions in the White House. Writing on his personal Twitter account, Trump accused that it was in fact the Obama administration which gave Flynn "the highest security clearance."
Trump failed to note that Obama had fired Flynn from the government in 2014, one of the main reasons behind Flynn's angry rhetoric during the election campaign. Now it turns out that Obama also personally warned Trump not to take Flynn as his National Security Adviser. The warning, according to a report first published on NBC News and attributed to three former senior Obama officials, came during the two men's first joint meeting, on the morning after the 2016 election.
Trump didn't accept Obama's advice, and hired Flynn as his National Security Adviser anyway, but it took him only three and a half weeks to regret that decision, mostly because of Flynn's involvement in the Russia investigation. Flynn's calls with Russian officials during the transition period are expected to come up later today during Yates' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has been reported that Yates warned senior officials in the Trump administration about Flynn, but her warnings were ignored.
Yates was fired by Trump 11 days into his presidency, over her stated opposition to his executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The same executive order was later blocked by the courts.