White House press secretary Sean Spicer attempted Thursday to shift blame to the Obama administration for its role in vetting retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the national security adviser dismissed by President Trump.
Spicer argued that the Trump transition team didn’t vet Flynn’s appointment because he already held a security clearance at the time.
“My only point is that when Gen. Flynn came into the White House, he had an active security clearance that was issued during the Obama administration with all the information that’s being discussed that occurred in 2015,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing.
“I think the president made the right decision at the right time, and he continues to stand by that,” Spicer said of Trump’s decision to request Flynn’s resignation. However, at the time, Trump appeared sympathetic, saying Flynn was the victim of a “witch hunt” and defending his reported request for immunity to testify before Congress.
Flynn resigned in February after it was revealed that he discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador and then mischaracterized their conversations to Vice President Mike Pence. Flynn was also paid hundreds of thousands by foreign governments for consulting work; he filed documents in March indicating he worked as a foreign agent on behalf of Turkey’s interests last year.
Flynn, who also clashed with the Obama administration, served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency before being forced out in 2014.
He went on to advise the Trump campaign, but was dogged by various controversies, including his decision to accept money from the Kremlin-funded RT network for a talk in Moscow in December 2015. Flynn told Yahoo News during last summer’s Republican National Convention about the payment, but that did not stop Trump from appointing him national security adviser.
Asked directly if Flynn was sufficiently vetted by the transition team, Spicer again shifted blame by raising his security clearance under the Obama administration.
“Well, with respect, you’re saying, ‘our process,’” Spicer began. “The process is, every government employee who’s eligible for a clearance goes through the same process. So, it’s not — we don’t have a unique process.”
Spicer declined to say whether the administration regretted Flynn’s appointment, repeating his earlier statement that Trump “made the right decision at the right time,” regarding Flynn’s eventual ouster less than a month after inauguration.
Read more from Yahoo News: