President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday that he delayed firing former national security adviser Michael Flynn because he didn’t feel it was urgent to do so immediately.
“[White House counsel Don] McGahn came back to me and did not sound like an emergency,” Trump explained to NBC’s Lester Holt during the exclusive interview Thursday morning.
“This man [Flynn] has served for many years, he’s a general, he’s a — in my opinion — a very good person. I believe that it would be very unfair to hear from somebody who we don’t even know and immediately run out and fire a general,” Trump said.
When Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed Trump about Flynn’s Russian connection, he waited 18-days to fire Flynn. That delay has been questioned by critics.
Trump fired Flynn after it became clear that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence and White House officials about his communication with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The conversations between Flynn and Kislyak, regarding U.S. sanctions on Russia, took place before Trump’s inauguration. They were of concern to some officials, who felt Flynn could be “blackmailed by the Russians.”
President Trump said he didn’t know about Flynn’s payments from the Russian and Turkish governments. During the interview, Trump suggested that since they took place in 2015, former President Barack Obama may have known.
“Obama perhaps knew because [Flynn] had clearance from the Obama administration,” Trump said. “And his clear… and this is something they never want to report… he had clearance from the Obama administration. The highest clearance you can have.”
The comments on Flynn begin at the 7:50 minute mark.
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