By Alex Bregman
When it comes to the investigation into Russia and the Trump White House, his name just won’t go away: Michael Flynn.
So who is he and how does he fit into the Russia puzzle?
Flynn rose in the ranks in the Army, leading operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq. He then served as President Barack Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, though he was forced out after just over two years because of his management style.
Cut to 2016, when he became a vocal critic of the Obama administration and its approach to the fight against ISIS.
He told Yahoo News in 2015, “I really think that he’s just confused as to what… the type of enemy that we’re facing … he really, really has it wrong.”
He soon found candidate Donald Trump’s ear, introducing him at rallies and even leading a “lock her up” chant at the Republican National Convention.
It turned out Flynn also had the ear of other leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. He attended a dinner with Putin in 2015 celebrating the 10th anniversary of RT, the Russian TV propaganda network, an event he was paid thousands of dollars by the Russian government to speak at.
When questioned by Yahoo News Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff at the RNC, “You flew to Russia… Why did you go to Moscow? Did you get paid? Who paid you?” he responded: “My speakers bureau. Ask them.”
Later it came out that Flynn didn’t disclose those payments to the Trump transition team and that he misled the Pentagon about them too.
The Trump team reportedly did know, however, about an investigation into Flynn for his work as a paid lobbyist for Turkey, and Trump himself even got a warning from Obama personally about Flynn.
Nevertheless, one week after Trump’s election victory, Flynn was named his national security adviser.
Flynn wouldn’t last long though, thanks to another Russia connection: a call he had with Russia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 29, the same day the Obama administration announced sanctions against the Russians for meddling in the election.
Flynn claimed those sanctions didn’t come up on the call, which would’ve been illegal, and he even sent Vice President Mike Pence out to confirm that. “I talked to Gen. Flynn about that,” Pence said. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”
It turns out Flynn lied to Pence and Trump had to let Flynn go. At 24 days, it was the shortest tenure for a national security adviser in American history.
Yet Trump has continued to speak highly of Flynn… even reportedly suggesting to then FBI Director James Comey on the investigation into his Russia ties: “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
According to Yahoo News, Trump still communicates with Flynn.
At one point, Flynn’s lawyers offered up his testimony on Russia in exchange for immunity, saying he has “certainly has a story to tell.”
Despite him having said this about offering up immunity in the past about Hillary Clinton: “When you are given immunity, that means you’ve probably committed a crime.”
That offer from Flynn, however, was NOT taken up by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and now he’s refusing to testify at all, pleading the Fifth Amendment.
So as the questions continue surrounding the Russia investigation, when it comes to one of the men at the center of it, Michael Flynn, at least you can say, now I get it.
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