President Trump’s short-lived National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, has emerged as a central figure in ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, which Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed to oversee as special counsel on Wednesday.
ABC News has confirmed that a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas to Flynn’s private-sector associates and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has requested documents detailing Flynn’s foreign contacts, his business clients, and his communications with the Russian ambassador.
This week brought word that former FBI Director James Comey kept detailed notes suggesting that, one day after Flynn was forced to resign for lying to Vice President Mike Pence, President Trump urged Comey during a February Oval Office meeting to “see your way clear to … letting Flynn go.” Trump aides have disputed Comey’s account, but if accurate, the Comey memos suggest Trump was growing increasingly uneasy about the investigations into Flynn’s conduct.
Flynn is a life-long military officer with a decorated career, much of it in operational roles overseeing the United States Army’s intelligence-gathering arm. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq, rising swiftly up the ranks. He commanded the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, was director of intelligence for Joint Special Operations Command, and he was director of intelligence of the United States Central Command. He oversaw the tracking and killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Emir of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which eventually became the Islamic State. In 2011, he took over the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Richard Frankel, a retired FBI agent and ABC News contributor, said Flynn had a reputation for sharp elbows and found himself “in conflict with others who were not happy with his rise up the ranks, especially when he became director of the DIA.” In 2014, Flynn retired as a three-star general, reportedly after being forced out the of the senior intel post. Those close to him say the anger he harbored towards the Obama administration drove him to jump into campaign politics.
After appearing with several Republican candidates in the Fall of 2015, he moved squarely behind Trump, eventually becoming a vocal champion at the candidate’s campaign rallies and on television. When Trump was elected, he approached Flynn about becoming National Security Adviser. According to Michael Ledeen, a historian and neoconservative political analyst who cowrote the book “Field of Fight” with Flynn about battlefield intelligence, Flynn was initially reluctant.
“Trump wanted him although Flynn [initially] said he didn’t want the job,” Ledeen told ABC News. “He’s a very talented man. He revolutionized U.S. military battlefield intelligence and was attempting to do the same thing at DIA when he was fired for telling the truth under oath.”
But Flynn accepted, and many believe his new post as the senior…