Flynn, Trump aide under scrutiny, will attend Netanyahu meetings

White House officials consider Flynn’s presence critical in Wednesday’s meetings with Netanyahu and his staff.

February 13, 2017 21:09
2 minute read.
 Michael Flynn

Retired U.S. Army Lt. General Michael Flynn in 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn carefully planned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House over the past month, synthesizing policy points with his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, and in coordination with leadership of the Mossad. But as Netanyahu took flight for Washington on Monday, Flynn’s job was cast in doubt over an alleged crime concerning intelligence agencies the world over: secretly sharing US intentions with Moscow and lying about it.

White House officials consider Flynn’s presence critical in Wednesday’s meetings with Netanyahu and his staff. He, along with Jared Kushner, are acting point figures on US President Donald Trump’s evolving policies on Iran and Middle East peace. But his attendance may now carry with it suspicion, as Israeli leadership wonders to what extent they can trust the president’s top national security aide with their most sensitive information.

Before Trump’s inauguration, Flynn was accused of coordinating with Russia’s ambassador to the US after the Obama administration imposed new sanctions on Moscow for its interference in the 2016 presidential election. In private, internal conversations with senior administration officials – including Vice President-elect Mike Pence – Flynn denied discussing those sanctions with the Russian ambassador. But US intelligence officials revealed this week that their discussions did in fact take place, and that recordings and transcripts were offered to the president as proof.

Around the time of those calls, Yediot Aharonot reported that US intelligence officials had warned the Mossad against sharing any information that it would not want in Russian hands. The report was never independently verified by any other news organization.

But Israeli and US officials subsequently echoed the spirit of the report, suggesting concern over the security of their intelligence sharing channels and confusion over the true nature of Trump’s relationship with Russia.

Now Flynn will be attending Trump’s meetings with Netanyahu in the Oval Office, in which two matters – the future of the Israeli- Palestinian peace process and Iran’s nuclear program – will top the agenda. CBS News reported on Sunday that Flynn’s involvement in planning Netanyahu’s visit made Trump nervous about dismissing him from his post before Wednesday’s meetings.

“Every nation considers many possibilities” when sharing intelligence with a foreign country, Uzi Arad, Israel’s former national security adviser, told The Jerusalem Post last month, expressing confidence in the professionalism of the Trump administration. “The more people share, the more their intelligence can be misdirected.”

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.

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