WASHINGTON, D.C. — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer countered questions about now-former President Barack Obama’s warning to President Donald Trump regarding short-lived Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, with one of his own.
“Why did a “concerned” Obama Administration reapprove Flynn’s security clearance and why did the Obama Administration allow Flynn to go to Russia for a paid speaking engagement,” Spicer asked.
Asked about President Barack Obama’s warning to President Trump concerning Flynn, Spicer said it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Obama wasn’t a “fan” of Flynn as Flynn had worked for Obama and was critical of him.
Spicer said the question that needed to be asked was, “If President Obama was really concerned about Gen. Flynn, why didn’t he suspend Flynn’s security clearance which they had just reproved months earlier?”
Spicer added another question: “Why did the Obama administration let Flynn go to Russia for a paid speaking engagement, which he did? There were steps that they could have taken — if that was truly a concern, more than just a person that didn’t — had bad blood.”
Asked if there was any difference in security clearance between Flynn’s position in the Obama Administration and his position in the Trump Administration, Spicer said, “He’d been head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. That’s the same…”
The Press Secretary stated that Flynn had been reinvestigated in April 2016 under the Obama Administration and was reapproved.
Spicer affirmed the belief that the President “took appropriate action when he did. Once he felt as though General Flynn had misled the Vice President, he took appropriate action at the time, and he stands by that today.”
Later in the briefing the issue came up again, and Spicer spoke to those bringing up Obama’s expression of concern to Trump regarding Flynn:
Under the Obama Administration, if they reissued one of the highest security clearances that you can get, knowing what they knew then, and then didn’t do anything to take proactive steps to suspend it in any way, shape, or form — the question you have to ask yourself is, if they were concerned, why didn’t they take any steps? They’re the ones who had, at that point, all the access and all the knowledge to everything that was on his SF-86 security clearance, not us.
So if President Obama, or anyone else frankly, in the government, was concerned, the question should be asked, what did they do and if nothing then why not, if they really truly were concerned? I think that is a fair question.
During a meeting between the outgoing and incoming Presidents November 10 in the Oval Office, Obama warned Trump against hiring Flynn, according to CNN.
Flynn served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under then President Obama from mid-2012 to the second half of 2014. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Flynn was a very vocal critic of Obama and was brought on as an adviser to the Trump campaign. After his appointment and confirmation in the position of National Security Adviser in the Trump Administration, it was discovered that Flynn had lied to the Vice President about conversations between Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Former Obama Administration deputy Attorney General Sally Yates testified on Capitol Hill Monday regarding Flynn. Yates continued on serving for a short time as Acting Attorney General under the Trump Administration prior to Jeff Sessions’ confirmation to serve in the position.
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