Strident views and a penchant for conspiracy theories often embroiled him in controversy—in a hacked e-mail from last summer, former Secretary of State Colin Powell called him “right-wing nutty”—but Trump rewarded Flynn’s loyalty by making him his national-security adviser.Now, after months of unrelenting scrutiny, Flynn seemed to believe that he could find a measure of obscurity in the West Wing, steps away from Trump and the Oval Office.In a White House characterized by chaos and conflict—a Byzantine court led by a reality-television star, family members, and a circle of ideologues and loyalists—Flynn was finished.The episode created countless concerns, about the President’s truthfulness, competence, temperament, and associations. John Mc Cain, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the fiasco was a “troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national-security apparatus” and raised “further questions” about the Trump Administration’s intentions regarding Vladimir Putin’s Russia.By this point, the Justice Department had informed Trump officials of concerns about Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador and his public accounting of them.The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama Administration, told the White House that she worried Flynn might be vulnerable to blackmail by Russian agents, the Washington reported.“I’m a target to get at Trump to delegitimize the election,” he said.The press had him “damn near all wrong.” Reporters were just chasing after wild theories, while neglecting to consider his career as a decorated Army officer.
He had been one of Trump’s earliest supporters, a vociferous booster on television, on Twitter, and, most memorably, from the stage of the Republican National Convention.” Flynn said, his jaw set and his hands gripping the sides of the lectern. We’re saying that because, if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth—a tenth—of what she did, I would be in jail today.”Marks’s thirty-five-year-old daughter, who was watching with him, turned to her father and said, “Dad, General Flynn is scaring me.”Trump, in his inaugural address, presented a dire image of the country—a nation suffering from poverty and blight, overextended abroad, and neglectful of its own citizens.The United States was in peril: “Our very existence is threatened.” The moment demanded a President with “guts,” he declared, not a “weak, spineless” one who “believes is above the law.”In the early two-thousands, Marks was Flynn’s commanding officer at the Army’s intelligence academy, in Fort Huachuca, Arizona; one of his daughters went to school with one of Flynn’s sons. He pledged to end the “carnage” by putting “America first”—echoing the isolationist creed of the nineteen-thirties.“I want to go back to having an out-of-sight role,” he told me. Three weeks into his job, the Washington revealed that Flynn, while he was still a private citizen and Barack Obama was still President, had discussed American sanctions against Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador in Washington. Flynn and Kislyak’s communications, by phone and text, occurred on the same day the Obama Administration announced the expulsion of thirty-five Russian diplomats in retaliation for Russia’s efforts to swing the election in Trump’s favor.Flynn had previously denied talking about sanctions with the Ambassador.Each morning, Flynn attended Trump’s intelligence briefing—the President’s Daily Brief.