White House press secretary Sean Spicer and President Donald Trump have blamed former President Barack Obama and his administration for the scandals surrounding the former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
Flynn stepped down after it was revealed he had misled Trump administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, regarding interactions with the Russian ambassador, The Washington Post reports. In recent statements, both Trump and Spicer pointed at Obama and his administration for not properly vetting Flynn.
"General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama administration," tweeted the president on May 8, "but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that."
The White House acknowledged that Obama had warned Trump not to choose Flynn as his national security adviser, but Spicer still laid blame on the former president for not suspending Flynn's security clearance.
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"If President Obama was truly concerned about General Flynn, why didn't he suspend General Flynn's security clearance, which they had just reproved months earlier," said Spicer at a May 8 news briefing. "Additionally, why did the Obama administration let Flynn go to Russia for a paid speaking engagement and receive a fee?"
Obama had previously fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, testified on May 8 that she told the White House counsel in January that Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador, and his failure to disclose information about them, may have compromised his dealings with Russia.
Trump didn't act on Yates' advice until more than two weeks later, when The Washington Post reported on Flynn's conversations.
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In his resignation letter in February, Flynn said that he had "inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador." He added, "I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president."
The Trump administration has been criticized for not screening Flynn itself, Talking Points Memo reports. Journalists and social media users have come out against Trump and Spicer's statements about Flynn and the Obama administration.
"New presidents often blame predecessors for various things," tweeted New York Times Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker. "Trump may be first to blame his national security advisor on his predecessor."
"Spicer says Obama 'didn't take proactive steps' to deny Flynn's security clearance," tweeted Shareblue editor Kalli Joy Gray. "Besides, you know, firing him."
"You don't get to spend 8 years painting Obama as a lying, terrorist-sympathizing criminal and then say you relied on him vetting your NSA," added writer Jesse Berney.
Sources: The Washington Post (2), Talking Points Memo / Photo credit: U.S. Central Command/Marine Corps Sgt. Alan Belser/Wikimedia Commons