Timeline: The rise and fall of Michael Flynn

·Senior Writer

National security adviser Michael Flynn, one of Donald Trump’s closest associates during the campaign and transition, resigned his post Monday night after admitting he misled administration officials about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in December. Here is a timeline of the events:

February 2016: Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, tells CNN he is advising five campaigns, including Trump’s. Over the ensuing months, reports call Flynn “Trump’s favorite general” and say he is one of the top candidates to be named as vice president on the Republican ticket.

July 18: Flynn speaks on Monday night of the Republican National Convention. During his speech he leads “Lock her up” chants directed at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and says, “If I did a tenth of what she did, I’d be in jail today.” Earlier that day, Flynn does an interview with Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff in which he defends taking a payment for a Russian speaking engagement:


Nov. 17: Isikoff reports that Flynn was receiving classified national security briefings last summer while he was also running a private consulting firm that offered “all-source intelligence support” to international clients.

Nov. 18: Flynn accepts Trump’s offer to become his national security adviser.

Dec. 14: The Washington Post and Associated Press report that Flynn had been investigated for inappropriately sharing classified information with foreign military officers while serving as an intelligence commander in Afghanistan. The Army reports concluded that Flynn had wrongly shared some intelligence, but that it was “not done knowingly.” No action was taken.

Dec. 29: President Barack Obama announces there will be sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the 2016 election. On the same day those sanctions are announced, Flynn speaks with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak by telephone. Initially, transition officials say Flynn texted with and spoke by phone with the ambassador on Dec. 28, but multiple members of the transition team confirm to NPR on Jan. 14 that that version of events was inaccurate and the two spoke on Dec. 29.

Dec. 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will not respond to the Obama administration sanctions. “Although we have the right to retaliate,” says Putin in a statement, “we will not resort to irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy but will plan our further steps to restore Russian-US relations based on the policies of the Trump Administration.”

Trump praises the decision:

Jan. 13, 2017: On a conference call with reporters, transition spokesperson and White House press-secretary-to-be Sean Spicer gives the transition’s account of Flynn’s discussion with the Russian ambassador: “The call centered around the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in, and they exchanged logistical information. That was it, plain and simple.”

Jan. 15: In an interview with CBS News’ John Dickerson, Vice President-elect Mike Pence says he spoke about the matter with Flynn, who had not brought up sanctions when speaking with the Russian ambassador. Pence: “But what I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”

Jan. 20: Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, and Flynn officially becomes national security adviser.

Jan. 23: CBS News reports that federal investigators are looking into at least one phone call between Flynn and Kislyak.

Jan. 26: Per a Washington Post report, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates tells White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn misled administration officials about his discussions with Kislyak and warns that he is potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Jan. 30: The White House fires Yates for refusing to defend the executive order banning immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Feb. 8: Flynn tells the Washington Post in an interview that sanctions did not come up in his discussions with Kislyak.

Feb. 9: A spokesman for Flynn tells the Washington Post “that while [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.” The Post cites nine anonymous sources in the intelligence community in reporting that, based on telephone intercepts, they did discuss sanctions.

Feb. 10: While on an Air Force One flight from Washington to Florida, Trump says he will “look into” the reports. “I don’t know about that. I haven’t seen it.”

Feb. 11: Flynn is photographed at the Mar-a-Lago resort consulting with Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan as they strategize a reaction to North Korea’s missile launch test.

Feb. 13

11:19 a.m. ET: USA Today reports that Flynn apologized to Pence.

4:06 p.m. ET: White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says in an MSNBC appearance that Flynn has “the full confidence” of Trump.

4:07 p.m. ET: Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis reports that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes said he expects Flynn to keep his job. Nunes blamed the leaks on those who “want the swamp to remain and they know that Flynn is not going to let the swamp remain.”

5:07 p.m. ET: Spicer says the president is evaluating the situation.

8:30 p.m. ET: Sen. John McCain on Flynn: “I’ve had a lot of dealings with him. I have confidence in him. But more important than that, he’s the president’s choice.”

11:03 p.m. ET: CNN and the Associated Press report that Flynn has resigned.

Feb. 14

12:41 a.m. ET:

6:41 a.m. ET:

8:50 a.m. ET: McCain releases a statement on Flynn citing his resignation as “a troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national security apparatus” and saying it “raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

9:28 a.m. ET:

9:35 a.m. ET:

10:52 a.m. ET: Politico reports that Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence committee, told lawmakers Monday that recent revelations about Flynn’s Russian conversations are only the beginning and more information will surface in the coming days. Schiff also said that any conversations between Flynn and Kislyak that took place prior to Trump’s inauguration would not be covered by executive privilege.

(Cover thumbnail photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)

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