210 Priebus 1/18/18 302, at 9.
211 Priebus 1/18/18 302, at 9; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 10.
212 Priebus 1/18/18 302, at 9; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 10.
On February 13, 2017, Priebus told Flynn he had to resign.210 Flynn said he wanted to say goodbye to the President, so Priebus brought him to the Oval Office.211 Priebus recalled that the President hugged Flynn, shook his hand, and said, “We’ll give you a good recommendation. You’re a good guy. We’ll take care of you.”212
Michael T. Flynn
National Security Advisor (Jan. 20, 2017 – Feb. 13, 2017), Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (July 2012 – Aug. 7, 2014), and Trump Campaign advisor. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about communications with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016.
White House chief of staff (Jan. 2017 – July 2017); chair of the Republican National Committee (Jan. 2011 – Jan. 2017).
213 SCR004_00600 (2/16/17 Email, Burnham to Donaldson).
White House Counsel (Jan. 2017 – Oct. 2018).
White House press secretary and communications director (Jan. 2017 – July 2017).
Talking points on the resignation prepared by the White House Counsel’s Office and distributed to the White House communications team stated that McGahn had advised the President that Flynn was unlikely to be prosecuted, and the President had determined that the issue with Flynn was one of trust.213 Spicer told the press the next day that Flynn was forced to resign “not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, [where] a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where [the President] felt he had to make a change.”214
214 Sean Spicer, White House Daily Briefing, C-SPAN (Feb. 14, 2017). After Flynn pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 1001 in December 2017, the President tweeted, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” @realDonaldTrump 12/2/17 (12:14 p.m. ET) Tweet. The next day, the President’s personal counsel told the press that he had drafted the tweet. Maegan Vazquez et al., Trump’s lawyer says he was behind President’s tweet about firing Flynn, CNN (Dec. 3, 2017).
216 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 3.
217 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 3.
218 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 3. Christie said he thought when the President said “the Russia thing” he was referring to not just the investigations but also press coverage about Russia. Christie thought the more important thing was that there was an investigation. Christie 2/13/19 302, at 4.
7. The President Discusses Flynn with FBI Director Comey
On February 14, 2017, the day after Flynn’s resignation, the President had lunch at the White House with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.215 According to Christie, at one point during the lunch the President said, “Now that we fired Flynn, the Russia thing is over.”216 Christie laughed and responded, “No way.”217 He said, “this Russia thing is far from over” and “[w]e’ll be here on Valentine’s Day 2018 talking about this.”218 The President said, “[w]hat do you mean? Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over.”219 Christie recalled responding that based on his experience both as a prosecutor and as someone who had been investigated, firing Flynn would not end the investigation.220 Christie said there was no way to make an investigation shorter, but a lot of ways to make it longer.221 The President asked Christie what he meant, and Christie told the President not to talk about the investigation even if he was
James Jr. Comey
Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Sept. 4, 2013 – May 9, 2017).
Former Governor of New Jersey.
215 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 2-3; SCR012b_000022 (President’s Daily Diary, 2/14/17).
219 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 3.
220 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 3.
221 Christie 2/13/19 302, at 3.