Although White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Flynn hadn’t done anything “improper or illegal” regarding the phone calls, Trump called for Flynn’s resignation because of a lack of trust.
The controversy first started when The Washington Post reported Flynn was taking part in phone calls with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak back in December – before Trump took office and on the same day then-U.S. president Barack Obama imposed new, retaliatory sanctions on Russia.
The calls were recorded, as is protocol regarding high-level calls to the Russian ambassador.
Trump’s administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, first defended Flynn saying the calls had nothing to do with the sanctions, but Flynn started rolling back his denial later that week, eventually resigning.
That left us with many questions over who knew what when, and whether or not we have the full story.
Here’s how it happened:
February 2016: Flynn told CNN he was advising Trump on a number of issues, including “national security and foreign policy.”
June: Russia found to be behind the hack of DNC emails, meddling in U.S. election.
Summer: Trump reportedly considered Flynn for the role of vice-president.
Nov. 8: Trump wins U.S. election.
Nov. 18: Trump offers Flynn national security adviser job.
Early December: Michael Flynn and his son accused of propagating fake news – as a result, Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, “is no longer involved” with Trump’s transition team.
Dec. 29: Obama imposes sanctions against Russia in retaliation for meddling in the election.
Vladimir Putin threatens there will be firm reaction against the sanctions.
Flynn discusses sanctions with ambassador, suggests Russia sits tight instead of hitting back (from recorded conversations).
Dec. 30: Putin uncharacteristically says he won’t retaliate against sanctions, despite posturing one day earlier.
Jan. 11: Trump hosts his first press conference since the election (as president-elect). At the conference, he denied any of his staff contacted Russian officials during the campaign.
Jan 12: First report of Flynn-Kislyak phone call. Column from the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. He asks important questions that spur follow-up reports from outlets across the country.
Jan.15: Vice President-elect Pence appears on morning shows denying Flynn discussed sanctions during the recorded phone call.
“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.
The New York Times reports that Donald Trump will offer to end sanctions against Russia in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal with Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.
Jan. 19: Acting attorney general General Sally Yates, as well as the director of the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence want to tell Trump’s team that Flynn lied, but James Comey, the director of the FBI, vetoes it saying it will compromise an ongoing FBI investigation.
Jan. 20: Trump takes oath of office and becomes president of the U.S. Flynn officially takes the job as National Security Adviser.
Shortly after taking office, Flynn was interviewed by the FBI sometime “just days into his new position,” The New York Times reported, saying he was “not forthcoming” with them.
Jan. 22: The Wall Street Journal reports the FBI investigated communications between Flynn and Kislyak.
Jan 23: White House press secretary Sean Spicer denies sanctions were discussed between the two during his first White House press briefing. Spicer says Flynn and Kislyak talked about plane crash, Christmas, Syria and scheduling a call between Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Jan. 26: Acting attorney general Sally Yates tells White House counsel Flynn is liable to blackmail from Russians after what he said publicly and what was recorded.
Trump is reportedly told about the allegations from Yates.
Jan. 30: Yates fired for telling Justice Department staff not to defend executive order temporarily banning travel.
Feb 9: The Washington Post reports Flynn and Kislyak did discuss sanctions. They have nine sources in the story. Flynn subsequently scales back denial saying “he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
Pence is told about Flynn conversation days after Trump was told, Pence’s press secretary Marc Lotter told NBC news.
Feb. 10: Trump and administration officials continue to deny sanctions were discussed.
Feb 11-12: Flynn goes to Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort with Trump and the Japanese prime minister. When asked about the controversy, Trump replied, “I don’t know about that, I haven’t seen that.” Officials later clarified he was talking about the specific Washington Post report directly.
Feb. 13: Post says White House knew for weeks that they discussed sanctions.
Kellyanne Conway says Flynn has confidence of president. Within minutes, Spicer says Trump is assessing the situation, Flynn subsequently resigns.