President Donald Trump on Friday shifted blame for the vetting of his former national security adviser Michael Flynn onto the Obama administration.
Trump, during an interview on Fox News, stressed that Flynn “was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level” for his prior stint in federal government, years before working in the Trump White House. The retired lieutenant general served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama until 2014.
“When he came into our administration, for a short period of time – he came in – he was already approved by the Obama administration, and he had years left on that approval,” Trump added.
Flynn resigned from his national security post in the Trump administration in February amid growing scrutiny over his ties to foreign agents. In recent weeks, revelations of Flynn’s lobbying work for the Turkish government and his paid speeches in Moscow, which went undisclosed in his clearance renewal application in 2016, have drawn the ire of US officials. Lawmakers have charged that Flynn’s omission likely violated the law.
The president, who already said he felt “bad” for Flynn following his ouster, said he remained sympathetic to his plight.
“I do feel badly for him,” Trump said. “He served the country. He was a general.”
The president likewise criticized those questioning why Flynn didn’t receive more thorough vetting from the Trump administration for not leveling the same questions at the Obama administration.
“Now, if somebody’s approved at the absolute highest level by the Obama or a previous administration, I mean, does anybody ever ask about them?” he asked.
Trump, who has frequently returned to the campaign controversies of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton since taking office, additionally asked why Clinton’s campaign aides did not face a similar line of questioning as Flynn.
“Does anybody ask about why Bill Clinton was paid a fortune to make speeches in Russia? Does anybody ever ask about Podesta having a company with his brother in Russia?” he said.