Mike Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and short-lived National Security Advisor under President Trump, has found himself at the center of allegations levied at the Trump Administration regarding Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential election.  Recent revelations regarding payments totaling more than a half million dollars given to Flynn by companies representing foreign governments have made it clear that Flynn was, at best, a poor choice for National Security Advisor – but the pressing question remains: how did a guy with such brazen ties to political opponents of the United States find himself in such an influential and powerful position within our federal government?

If you ask Trump’s team, we have Barrack Obama to blame.  According to multiple sources, the Trump White House did little vetting of Flynn (or possibly even none at all) because his security clearance had been renewed as recently as 2016 under the Obama Administration.  That renewal was likely tied to Flynn’s management of the Flynn Intel Group, and wouldn’t be subject to renewal once more until 2021.

“And when they say we didn’t vet, well Obama I guess didn’t vet, because he was approved at the highest level of security by the Obama administration,” President Trump said. “So when he came into our administration, for a short period of time, he came in, he was already approved by the Obama administration and he had years left on that approval.”

Sean Spicer echoed the president’s sentiments in a press briefing soon thereafter: “When General Flynn came into the White House, he had an active security clearance that was issued during the Obama administration with all the information that’s being discussed that occurred in 2015.  Why would you rerun a background check on someone who was the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency that had and did maintain a high-level security clearance?”

Now, this kind of responsibility deflection may seem like politics as usual to some, but when looking at this from an objective, nuts and bolts perspective, it certainly isn’t the sort of excuse you want to hear from the leader of the free world when he’s questioned about accidentally appointing a seriously compromised individual to his inner circle.  If you’re already a card-carrying member of the Trump-bashing club, this boils down to a simple “either/or” scenario: either Trump failed to thoroughly vet Flynn and is now blaming Obama, or he knew about Flynn’s shady dealings and simply approved of it.

As the President of the United States, this error (or intentional negligence) does fall at the feet of President Trump… but that doesn’t mean President Obama’s hands are clean; if anything, this situation speaks to a serious issue in culture and systemic procedure throughout presidential administrations on either side of the ideological fence.  National security is not a partisan issue, no matter how hard the media, and some politicians, may try to construe it as such.

Flynn was indeed fired by Obama in 2014 from his role as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, though according to sources from within the Administration, the termination had nothing to do with foreign collusion.  Reports from within the Obama White House seem to indicate that Flynn was fired for his “chaotic” and “toxic” management style and penchant for believing in conspiracy theories.  Of course, because Flynn was critical of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, that could easily be construed as the sour grapes of an employer that couldn’t see eye to eye with his employee, which is almost certainly how Donald Trump saw it when he invited Flynn to join his campaign staff.

That means that Obama’s now well-reported warning to Trump about Flynn not being well suited for such a high-level position probably played in Trump’s mind as more of Obama’s condescension regarding the transition of power from his administration to Trump’s.  While it’s easy to criticize Trump’s bedside manner when it comes to dealing with other important leaders, it’s also important to remember that President Obama has oft been accused of coming off as “professorial:” in other words, he talks down to people.  Donald Trump, a successful businessman that is accustomed to being the most influential person in the room, would likely be less apt to heed Obama’s warnings about a man he’d grown to be friends with if delivered as a part of a conversation that included lectures about other political hot spots the two couldn’t see eye to eye on.