National Security Law & Security Clearances Are Directly Impacting the White House
The current issues impacting the Trump White House have brought national security matters, the Intelligence Community, and security clearance adjudications into the spotlight simultaneously. Compass Rose Legal Group, PLLC is a law firm specializing in representing the Defense and Intelligence Communities, and we believe this overview will help simplify the chronology of events that have led to this increasingly complex matter unfolding as publicly as it has.
Notwithstanding the political implication surrounding these events, the facts are materializing into a case study of what federal employees, contractors, and members of the military ought not to do.
Who is Michael Flynn?
Michael Flynn was President Trump’s first National Security Advisor and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (“DIA”). Flynn was removed from his position as DIA Director by then-President Obama, who cited policy disagreements between Flynn and the larger Intelligence Community. Subsequently, in 2016, Flynn was appointed as the National Security Advisor by Donald Trump; he served only 24 days before being asked to resign.
Flynn is currently at the center of a Justice Department investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Moreover, he is also under heightened scrutiny for accepting (and not reporting) money to lobby on behalf of Turkey. Reportedly, it is this information that he failed to disclose on his SF-86. His failure to report has provided prosecutors with leverage to force Flynn’s cooperation in the ongoing investigation.
Here is a brief timeline of the events that have led to his removal by President Trump, and the subsequent appointment of a Special Prosecutor:
- On December 10, 2015, Michael Flynn allegedly receives money from Russian officials during a trip to Moscow. The payment triggers a subsequent investigation by the Pentagon Office of Inspector General in April 2017.
- On August 9, 2016, Michael Flynn receives $530,000 dollars for lobbying work on behalf of a Turkish firm with strong ties to the Erdogan government in Ankara. The money was intended to go toward the production of a pro-Turkish government film, but no film is ever produced. General Flynn does not report this activity to federal lobbying authorities or register as a foreign agent until March of 2017.
- On November 8, 2016, Michael Flynn writes an op-ed in The Hill that supports the Turkish government’s crackdown on (allegedly) seditious elements. According to press reports, he shared a copy of this article with the Turkish firm behind his August payment before publishing it.
- In December 2016, Flynn begins communicating regularly with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
- On January 4, 2017, the Trump transition team is first informed that Flynn is under investigation by the Department of Justice.
- On January 10, 2017, Flynn blocks a plan to arm Kurdish Rebels against ISIS, contrary to the recommendations of the Obama White House. This was viewed as a massive policy victory for Turkey, who opposes the Kurds. After Flynn’s resignation, the Trump White House began to arm the Kurds again.
- On January 26, 2017, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warns White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn has allegedly lied about his discussions with the Russian Ambassador. Yates reportedly supplied evidence that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the ambassador, which he had vehemently denied.
- On February 9, 2017, a Washington Post report reveals that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador by assuring him that sanctions were never discussed.
- On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigns following intense media scrutiny.
- On May 17, 2017, the Department of Justice appoints former FBI director Robert Mueller III to lead an independent probe into the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia.
This chronology of events was prepared by Thomas Toman, National Security Investigations Intern.