This article has been updated.
How Michael Flynn got back to the White House
April 2014: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is relieved of duty as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn will leave the position that summer and later allege that the firing stemmed from his criticism of then-President Barack Obama’s efforts to fight radical Islamic terrorism.
Dec. 10, 2015: Flynn participates in a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Russia Today, the Russian-state-backed television network. He is part of a panel discussion in Moscow, for which he receives compensation.
Jul. 18: Flynn gives a speech endorsing Trump at the Republican National Convention. The New York Times editorial board later calls it “grotesque” for Flynn’s embrace of the convention crowd’s “lock her up” chant.
Jul. 22: On the Friday before the Democratic National Convention begins, WikiLeaks releases emails that are thought to have been stolen from the Democratic National Committee by Russian state actors.
Oct. 7: WikiLeaks begins publishing emails that the U.S. government thinks were stolen by Russia from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Prior to Nov. 8: Flynn contacts Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to Post reporting. It’s not clear how often the two communicated or what was discussed.
Nov. 8: Trump is elected president.
Nov. 17: President-elect Trump names Flynn his intended national security adviser. The position does not require Senate approval.
Where Flynn got into trouble
Dec. 6: Vice President-elect Mike Pence is asked if Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, has a role with the presidential transition. (The younger Flynn has attracted negative attention for spreading conspiracy theories.) Pence denies that he does.
Later in the day, after it emerges that the transition team requested security clearance for Flynn’s son, Pence changes his story, saying that the son was helping his father with scheduling. In February, it’s reported that Flynn requested that clearance without telling the transition team.
Dec. 25: Flynn texts Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, to wish him a merry Christmas and to express condolences for a plane crash, according to Pence in a January interview.
Dec. 28: At one point, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicates that Flynn and Kislyak spoke Dec. 28, but later corrects the date.
Dec. 29: Flynn places five phone calls to Kislyak. These calls were apparently on unsecured lines, and monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. On the same day, Obama announces measures meant to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election.
Dec. 30: Trump tweets praise for Vladimir Putin’s response to Obama.
Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
Jan. 11: During his first news conference since the convention, Trump acknowledges that Russia was most likely behind the hacking at the DNC, although he says that “we also get hacked by other countries and other people.”
How it fell apart
Jan. 12: The Washington Post’s David Ignatius reveals the conversations between Flynn and Kislyak. “What did Flynn say,” he wonders, “and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”
The Logan Act bars unauthorized citizens from contacting foreign governments “with an intent to influence its measures or conduct in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States.” If Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak before being sworn in as national security adviser, that could be a violation of the act.
Jan. 13: Spicer tells reporters that there was one call between Kislyak and Flynn, during which the pair “exchanged logistical information” on setting up a call between Trump and President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Jan. 15: Pence appears on CBS’s “Face the Nation” and is asked about the Flynn conversations, which he characterizes as “a conversation.”
“It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation,” Pence says. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”
He later adds: “General Flynn has been in touch with diplomatic leaders, security leaders in some 30 countries. That’s exactly what the incoming national security adviser should do. But what I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”
Jan. 20: Trump takes the oath of office as president.
Jan. 22: Flynn is sworn in as National Security Adviser.
Jan. 26: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informs White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was lying about the nature of his calls with Kislyak and that this made him vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.
During his press briefing on Tuesday, Spicer said that McGahn subsequently reviewed the legality of Flynn’s actions, determining that no law was broken.
Jan. 31: Yates is fired by Trump after announcing that she would not defend his immigration executive order.
Feb. 1: Flynn makes an unusual appearance at the daily news briefing, declaring that the administration was putting Iran “on notice” for hostile actions.
Feb. 8: Flynn tells a reporter from The Post that he didn’t discuss sanctions in his conversations with Kislyak. Asked repeatedly, he twice says “no” to the question.
Feb. 9: Flynn’s spokesman walks that back. Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up,” he tells The Post.
Feb. 10: Trump tells reporters that he’s unfamiliar with the Post’s report that Flynn now admits he may have discussed sanctions in the December calls.
Feb. 13: Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tells MSNBC that Trump maintains full confidence in Flynn.
Later that evening, The Post reports on the Yates warning to the White House.
Flynn subsequently resigns. In his resignation letter, he writes:
In the course of my duties as the incoming National Security Advisor, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors. These calls were to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships between the President, his advisors and foreign leaders. Such calls are standard practice in any transition of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.