Michael Thomas “Mike” Flynn, stepped down as the National Security Advisor on February 13, 2017 after admitting to incomplete disclosure about his telephone calls with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn's 24-day tenure is the shortest in the history of the National Security Advisor position, where according to The Washington Post, the average is 2.6 years. President Trump announced that retired Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. will replace Flynn as the acting National Security Advisor.
On December 29, 2016, then President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for trying to influence the Presidential elections through cyber attacks. Flynn reportedly spoke to Kislyak the very same day and discussed these sanctions. At that point, the new administration hadn't taken over and Flynn, even though a part of the transition team, did not hold an official government position.
While he denied it initially and many in the administration, including Vice-President Mike Pence came to Flynn's defense, U.S. counterintelligence agents were investigating Flynn’s communications with Russian officials to determine if there was any violation of the law. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the transcript of the conversation contradicted Flynn's claim.
"Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology," Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army and a former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said in his resignation letter.
During the presidential campaign, Flynn advised Donald Trump on national security issues and was one of the most high-profile surrogates of the Republican presidential candidate. Like Trump, Flynn is a frequent user of Twitter. Via the social media platform, Flynn has interacted with alt-right members, posted Islamophobic tweets, and circulated pro-Trump comments and fake news that mostly targeted the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Flynn, 57, graduated from the University of Rhode Island and completed his MBA at Golden Gate University before starting his career in the military. He completed the Advanced Military Studies Program of the School of Advanced Military Studies in 1994 and earned a master’s degree in National Security Studies, National Security Policy Studies and International Relations from the U.S. Naval War College in 2001.
In the past decade, Flynn has held numerous roles in military intelligence, including the Directors of Intelligence for the U.S. Central Command, which oversaw military efforts against the Middle East and Central and South Asia, and for the International Security Assistance Forces in charge of an allied and coalition group in Afghanistan. He also served as the advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and for the U.S. Army intelligence unit G-2. He moved on to policy development in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence of the Executive Branch before serving as the 18th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014.
Flynn Intel Group, the business that Flynn has been running since October 2014, later raised concerns about his potential conflicts of interest. The company was assisting a Turkish client with lobbying efforts in the U.S. during the Trump campaign when Flynn had access to intelligence briefings, according to CNN. In a statement on November 17, 2016, Flynn told The Wall Street Journal that he would eliminate ties with his company upon serving in the Trump administration.
As a member of the Executive Office of the President, Flynn’s role as the National Security Advisor does not require Senate confirmation. Nevertheless, Democratic senators have urged the Obama administration to check the security clearance level of Flynn on suspicion that he mishandled classified intelligence.