The Slatest

Russians Reportedly Bragged They Could Use Michael Flynn to Influence Trump

Michael Flynn arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House on January 22, 2017 in Washington, D.C.  

Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Russian officials were so confident that they could use Michael Flynn to influence Donald Trump that they openly bragged about it during the campaign, according to CNN. U.S. intelligence officials were immediately concerned about what they heard and some even went as far as cutting back on what they shared with Flynn. Several officials were apparently aware of the conversations and there was enough concern to go around. CNN reports:

“This was a five-alarm fire from early on,” one former Obama administration official said, “the way the Russians were talking about him.” Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem.

The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said. That relationship developed throughout 2016, months before Flynn was caught on an intercepted call in December speaking with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. That call, and Flynn’s changing story about it, ultimately led to his firing as Trump’s first national security adviser.

This latest report about how compromised Flynn was with the Russians comes at a time when several bits of news have come out about the former national security adviser that make clear he was at the center of any ties the Trump campaign had with Moscow. We already knew then-President Obama had warned then-President Elect Trump not to hire Flynn as his national security adviser. Trump ignored that advice, even after Flynn told Trump’s transition team that he was being investigated over undeclared lobbying for Turkey.

Trump reportedly stayed in contact with Flynn and even sent him a message in April urging him to “stay strong,” according to Yahoo News. Word that Trump was still in touch with his former national security adviser after he fired him came amid news that the president reportedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down the agency’s investigation into Flynn (Trump has denied that was the case).