In some ways, this is a revelation that we all imagined to be true: as Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn had access to top-secret information he never should have been privy to.
But new New York Times reporting has added a twist: Flynn was sitting in on sensitive CIA briefings even though the CIA had concluded pre-inauguration that he represented a potential threat.
At the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — agencies responsible for keeping American secrets safe from foreign spies — career officials agreed that Mr. Flynn represented an urgent problem.
Yet nearly every day for three weeks, the new C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, sat in the Oval Office and briefed President Trump on the nation’s most sensitive intelligence — with Mr. Flynn listening. Mr. Pompeo has not said whether C.I.A. officials left him in the dark about their views of Mr. Flynn, but one administration official said Mr. Pompeo did not share any concerns about Mr. Flynn with the president.
The episode highlights another remarkable aspect of Mr. Flynn’s stormy 25-day tenure in the White House: He sat atop a national security apparatus that churned ahead, despite its own conclusion that he was at risk of being compromised by a hostile foreign power.
During testimony last month, Pompeo declined to say whether he was aware of his own agency’s conclusions about Flynn’s vulnerabilities.
“I can’t answer yes or no,” he said. “I regret that I’m unable to do so.”
Of course, whatever Pompeo did or didn’t know and whatever he did or didn’t tell Trump, Sally Yates made clear during her first visit to the White House on Jan. 26, just six days after the inauguration, to brief White House counsel Don McGahn on Flynn. She made clear that Flynn had lied and was in danger of being blackmailed by the Russians, and according to Sean Spicer, McGahn briefed Trump on that meeting immediately following.
Yet Flynn remained in his position for another 18 days, sitting in on Pompeo’s daily briefs with Trump.
During Tuesday’s briefing, Spicer claimed once again that America’s safety was Trump’s “No. 1” priority. Yeah, that’s why he put Flynn in charge of America’s most sensitive intelligence.