Background


A retired United States Army Lieutenant General, Michael “Mike” Flynn served briefly as the National Security Advisor under President Donald Trump from January 20 to February 13, 2017 -- a total of 24 days. Once considered by Trump for the role of Vice President, Flynn’s tenure as National Security Advisor was the shortest in American history.

Previously, he served as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama and some considered him one of the best intelligence officers in a generation. But Flynn has also been criticized for peddling conspiracy theories, such as the idea that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading within the United States, and espousing extreme views on Islam. During a speech in August 2016, Flynn stated that Islamism is a "vicious cancer inside the body of 1.7 billion people" that has to be "excised." Flynn has sought to link all followers of Islam under one umbrella to help justify his intensely hardline view of Iran, which was on display early in his tenure as he moved to set a more confrontational posture with Iran -- putting the country “on notice” in response to a recent ballistic missile test.

On February 13, Flynn resigned after coming under heavy scrutiny for discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call with Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, before Trump took office as President.

While Flynn initially denied discussing sanctions with Russian officials, he backed away from that position as nine sources  corroborated the allegations. On the day of his resignation, it was reported that the White House had known for weeks that Flynn had misled them and that the Department of Justice considered him compromised and vulnerable to blackmail. During that time, he regularly participated in national security discussions.

Many lawmakers are calling for Flynn to be investigated by Congress. As it stands, House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz said on February 14, 2017 that he will not pursue an investigation, instead suggesting the topic would be more appropriate for the House Intelligence Committee. The Chair of that committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, said there would not be an investigation, citing executive privilege. A Senate investigation, however, looks likely.

Concerns


This is a rapidly evolving story that raises a multitude of questions and concerns. Among them:

1. The White House knew for weeks that Flynn had misled them. Why wasn't he asked to resign earlier?
2. Would Flynn still be serving as National Security Advisor if the situation had not been made public?
3. Did anyone ask Flynn to talk about the sanctions with the Russian ambassador?
4. What did President Trump know and when did he know it?
5. Did others on the Trump transition team authorize conversations about sanctions?

Flynn's resignation reignites questions about the Trump administration's intentions toward Russia, as well as Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Late on February 14, 2017, news broke that Trump aides had been in regular contact with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign.