Asked Tuesday if former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose information on his security clearance application, White House press secretary Sean Spicer dodged.
“That would be a question for him,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing.
“I don’t know what he filled out or what he did or did not do.”
The bipartisan leaders of the House Oversight Committee announced Tuesday that there was “no evidence” that Flynn made the appropriate disclosures about payments he accepted from foreign governments, which he is forbidden from accepting as a former military officer. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said Flynn failed to note the $45,000 he was paid by Russian state media outlet RT to give a speech in Moscow in 2015 on his January 2016 security clearance application.
Spicer argued that Flynn filled out that form during the Obama administration, and brushed aside questions about the White House refusing the committee’s request for any documents “referring or relating to Lieutenant General Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals.”
Spicer’s argument was three-pronged. One, the Department of Defense also received a request for some of those documents and complied. Two, Flynn’s communications simply amounted to too much information for the White House to sift through. And three, the Trump team wasn’t aware of Flynn’s activities prior to Inauguration Day, though he served as a top campaign adviser and was a named national security adviser for the administration at the time.
“To say we want the national security adviser, whose job it is to talk with foreign counterparts on a daily basis, to document every call he may or may not have made is not a request that is able to be filled,” Spicer said, calling the request “outlandish.”
Journalists pointed out that all of Flynn’s calls were made as a representative of Trump, and that it was the transition team’s responsibility to properly investigate the background of an individual who would have access to the nation’s highest-level intelligence secrets.
Q: Why wasn't Mike Flynn vetted better during the transition?
Spicer: “you fill out forms…” pic.twitter.com/jcOU0Jdih5
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 25, 2017
“Why wasn’t he more closely vetted during the transition period?” one reporter asked.
“You fill out the forms and do a background check,” Spicer responded. “And they have a security clearance and fill it out and that’s how everyone operates under the same guise.”
As CNN reported, former government officials like Flynn would be asked to re-apply for national security clearances when they return to public service, and would have to detail any payments received by foreign governments.