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Trump blames Obama for vetting of Flynn

Trump blames Obama for vetting of Flynn
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President Trump on Friday faulted former President Obama’s administration for authorizing a security clearance for Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.

“But just remember, he was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level,” Trump told Fox News.

“And when they say we didn’t vet, well, Obama I guess didn’t vet, because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration,” Trump added.

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“So 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 he respects Flynn’s past military service and has sympathy for the retired Army lieutenant general.

“I do feel badly for him,” he said. “He served the country. He was a [lieutenant] general."

Flynn, who was forced out of Trump's White House after misleading officials about his conversation with the Russian ambassador, received a five-year renewal of his security clearance in January 2016.

The House Oversight Committee this week said Flynn may have broken the law by taking payments from Russia and Turkey without approval from the military and State Department.

Flynn was reportedly warned against taking such payments when he retired in 2014.

According to Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Flynn applied to renew his security clearance — using a Form SF-86 — in January 2016, a month after he traveled to Moscow to give a paid speech. 

Cummings said the committee had seen "no evidence" that Flynn disclosed that payment on the form or that he sought permission before taking the payment. He noted that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact on an SF-86 is a felony.

Flynn was fired as Obama's Defense Intelligence Agency chief in the spring of 2014 after less than two years leading the agency.

He was ousted after clashing with top Obama national security officials, including intelligence director James Clapper.

Flynn blamed his firing on his strong views on fighting Islamic extremist groups.

He later reemerged as close adviser to Trump, even getting a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention.

Trump named Flynn his national security adviser after winning the White House, but he was forced to resign just a few weeks into the administration.

Flynn has offered to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees that are investigating Russian meddling in the election in return for immunity from prosecution.

The committees have so far not taken him up on the offer.

Updated at 2:25 p.m.