WASHINGTON – Former President Obama warned his successor Donald Trump against hiring Michael Flynn as national security adviser because of his ties to Russian officials, officials in both camps said Monday.
The warning came just two days after the presidential election, during the incoming president’s meeting with Obama in the Oval Office on Nov. 10.
Despite Obama’s warnings, Trump appointed Flynn as national security adviser anyway – and dismissed him less than a month into his presidency, saying that Flynn misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration.
Though he did not comment in detail about the Oval Office meeting, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said that Obama made it clear that “he wasn’t exactly a fan of Gen. Flynn’s.”
That “shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Spicer said, noting the outgoing president had fired Flynn as the head of the military’s intelligence unit. If Obama was so concerned, he should have suspended Flynn’s security clearance when he had the authority to do so, Spicer added.
A former aide to President Obama also confirmed the warning, first reported by NBC News.
Another Trump official who confirmed the warning also requested anonymity in order to discuss the private conversation between Obama and Trump, and because of the sensitivity of discussing Flynn, currently the subject of ongoing federal investigations over his contacts with Russians.
During the November meeting, that official said, Obama seemed aware of Flynn’s contacts with the Russians, including a 2015 trip to Moscow.