What is happening with Michael Flynn?
(Timeline last updated: May 1, 2017)
So, I have been diligently trying to make sense of everything I can that is happening in our government. I’ve found it beyond taxing to keep up with all various scandals happening at and around the White House since President Trump started running for office through to today. From Trump’s nepotism, his lies about separating himself from his business, and of course the ongoing and growing Russian involvement and related scandals across the administration -I ask “how is one supposed to actually have the time to keep up with all the scandal?” Just the sheer volume of daily drama related to all the various Russia investigations – and unfolding issues with the few who, like Michael Flynn, Trump has actually nominated for the various Senate confirmation required posts – there is so much overlap it is hard to keep track.
This leaves me wondering – what can I do to make this easier to grasp? Leaning on the experience I’ve gathered from my day job – as an IT professional, software designer, and reluctant project manager – I decided to look at this in a more rigorous manner.
The process of building software first requires understanding the businesses need is, and then figuring out what needs to be accomplished. Before approaching the design of a solution you need to understand what will need to be accomplished. Once that is done, generally the next task is to break out all the discrete components or functions, and figure out what order they need to be produced. This got me to thinking – for work I’m often having put put things into sequence logically, and with project management related to producing software you are often building timelines to ensure that everything that needs to be done is ready in time for each component that will require it in the future.
“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” –Creighton Abrams
So, I decided that it would be worth the time and effort to grab one of this seemingly endless stream of concerning events, and put it into a timeline that I could easily follow. Knowing I’m not the only one trying to thread this Byzantine maze of events I thought the effort worth sharing, as it might help others also more easily track what is happening in our country as well.
I decided to start with a timeline for Michael Flynn, the former National Security Adviser for President Trump. I’m trying to focus on the events that specifically matter as they relate to the scandals he’s been under investigation for.
Setting the Stage:
Michael Flynn is a former Military Intelligence officer who was fired from the position during President Obama’s administration. He obscured the fact that he worked for and represented the government of Turkey – via his work with a shell company. He has been in communication with Russian political figures and lied about it until it was uncovered. The timeline about Flynn tracks both of these streams of events as they have progressed. There is a bit of back story information about previous interactions and potentially important dates.
As more information comes out I’ll try to keep this updated and fresh.
(The exact date is unknown)
In 2013, Flynn arranged a trip to Moscow to speak to a group of officers from the G.R.U., Russia’s intelligence agency, about leadership development. His decision to go was a controversial one. Flynn believed that there were opportunities to find common ground with Russia. But Steven Hall, the C.I.A.’s chief of Russia operations at the time, was skeptical. “He wanted to build a relationship with his counterparts in the G.R.U., which seemed, at best, quaint and naïve,” Hall told me. “Every time we have tried to have some sort of meaningful cooperation with the Russians, it’s almost always been manipulated and turned back against us.”
“Flynn got fired as head of DIA. His replacement is a black Marine 3-star. I asked why Flynn got fired. Abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc. He has been and was right-wing nutty every since.”
There is a string of emails from Powel regarding Flynn.
Flynn was removed from the DIA under President Obama due to management errors, and obstinacy. Flynn claims it was due to Obama’s hesitant policy on the Syrian civil war.
Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 against accepting foreign payments.
“Accordingly, if you are ever in a position where you would receive and emolument from a foreign government or from an entity that might be controlled by a foreign government, be sure to obtain advance approval from the Army prior to acceptance.”
Flynn was seated next to Putin at the head table of the 10th Anniversary Gala for RT (Russian Television).
Flynn was paid $45,000 plus hotel and expenses for both himself and his son.
Flynn gave two other speeches to the American divisions of Russian firms earlier in 2015 and was paid (after agency commissions) $11,250 for each.
Flynn does not disclose this income on his filings and statements during later vetting process for National Security role
A lawyer for the Flynn Intel Group told the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) division of the DOJ that the company had done work on behalf of a Dutch client, Inovo BV. Inovo BV being the front company for the Turkish involvement Flynn worked with.
Reports begin showing Flynn taking a formal advisory role with Trump on Foreign Affairs.
In July 2016, it was reported he was being considered as Trump’s running mate; Flynn later confirmed that he had submitted vetting documents to the campaign and was willing to accept the Republican vice-presidential nomination if chosen.
The infamous chanting after speaking about not being above the law, and making the statement “If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.”
Exact dates are not released – just the start is reported as August
Flynn tried to subvert extradition process and have a permanent resident of the USA kidnapped after Turkey’s accuses him of orchestrating and attempted military coup.
“When you are given immunity that means you’ve probably committed a crime.”
Former military intelligence chief, Michael Flynn, is offered the job of national security adviser.
Donald Trump states that Flynn’s focus will be combatting ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’
Congressman Elijah Cummings wrote both Mike Pence and Jason Chaffietz about Flynn.
“Lt. Gen. Flynn’s involvement in advising Mr. Trump on matters relating to Turkey or Russia – including attending classified briefings on those matters – could violate the Trump for America, Inc. Code of Ethical Conduct”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer reported that Flynn sent a text to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak “wishing him a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” and that he looks forward “to touching base with you and working with you, and I wish you all the best.”
Spicer said that the ambassador replied back to Flynn, “wishing him a Merry Christmas as well.”
Flynn made a call to express condolences for the shooting-down of a Russian plane carrying a choir to Syria.
During this call Flynn also discussed plans for a Trump-Putin conversation sometime after the inauguration
President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Russia, Russian intelligence services and their top officials
35 Russian officials were kicked out of the US, and closed two facilities.
Flynn texted the ambassador and the two also speak by phone on December 29th.
Spicer later claimed the call was “centered on the logistics of setting up a call” between Trump and President Vladimir Putin.
Despite the tit-for-tat history of US / Russian reactions – Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow will not expel American diplomats in response to US sanctions against Russia. Putin’s statement said, “…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 later praised Putin’s restraint on Twitter.
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
“Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!” he writes.
The Russian Embassy in the US re-tweeted Trump within a few minutes.
Trump denies that his team has had any contact with Russia before the election or during the campaign.
David Ignatius of the Washington Post first reports the contact between Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., raising questions about whether sanctions were discussed.
Flynn and Kislyak spoke several times on this date.
Sean Spicer downplays the nature of the phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak.
“The conversation was about “logistics” for a call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump… That was it. Plain and simple.”
Mike Pence on Face the Nation with John Dickerson:
JOHN DICKERSON: … Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE: Of course not.
“It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”
“They did not have a discussion contemporaneous with U.S. action on..”
“I can confirm those elements were not a part of that discussion.”
Sally Yates and other intelligence officials debate what to do with information they had collected on Michael Flynn.
Clapper and Brennan made the case to Comey for informing the Trump team about Flynn
FBI Director Comey argues against notifying Trump officials regarding the communications. Arguing the FBI shouldn’t be the truth police.
Flynn officially becomes the National Security Advisor
Sean Spicer reports that he conferred with Flynn on Jan 22, and that Flynn claims he and Kislyak only spoke one time.
Comey drops his opposition to informing the Trump administration.
Yates informed White House Counsel Donald McGhan that what Mr. Flynn had evidently told the vice president and others about his calls (with the Russian ambassador) might make the new national security adviser vulnerable to blackmail (as it was untrue).
Spicer said McGahn immediately briefed Trump and other senior officials. Trump ordered McGahn to look into whether there was a legal issue. McGahn concluded there was none.
Twice during an interview denied having discussed sanctions with Kislyak.
According to the Washington Post – Flynn’s spokesman “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
Despite the Trump counsel having informed the White House on Jan 26 – Pence claims to have just found out.
The New York Times reports that there are transcripts of Flynn’s conversations.
Despite having been directly informed by Yates via the White House Counsel on January 26th, the President claims to not know anything.
— Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) February 14, 2017
At about 5pm on MSNBC, Conway, claims that Flynn has the President’s full confidence.
Sean Spicer states that Trump is “evaluating the situation.”
Around 11pm Flynn resigns.
Flynn’s resignation letter claims it was due to the fast pace of events that he ‘inadvertently’ briefed the vice president and others with incomplete information.
— CNN (@CNN) February 14, 2017
Conway states that it was Flynn’s decision to resign.
Spicer stated that Trump made a determination late in the day, and he executed on it.
Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 31, 2017
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law,” Chaffetz said.
“I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law.”
Flynn registered that he is the agent of a foreign government, and had been lobbying between August and November on the behalf of Turkey. Flynn had been paid $530,000 for these Turkey related efforts.
I want to thank the founders of our country for the Freedom of Speech, the ensuing freedom of the press, and all the dedicated reporting that so many different groups have done to bring to light the various items that we know to this point. The Washington Post and the New York Times have gone above and beyond in their dedication to bringing clarity. The McClatchy DC Bureau for unstintingly sharing information that they have been given and unearthed.
Knowing this short bit of work took me over 9 hours of reading and verifying – from published sources – to get this far. Just this effort alone has left me with greater respect for those who have done the work to unearth what we know this far.
Support the news organizations that are working to prevent our country from becoming a kleptocratic dictatorship. It is reporting that has historically kept America the constitutional country that it is – case in point Watergate.
Sources for dates include but are not limited to: