NBC news reported on Monday that former President Barack Obama warned his successor Donald Trump, in one of their first conversations after the election, not to hire retired General Michael Flynn. Trump didn’t heed the advice and appointed Flynn as national security advisor; Flynn was later booted following revelations that he had not been forthcoming about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition.
Responding to the latest news, Trump staffers have issued a series of defenses that are contradictory. One staffer told NBC News, “Obama made the president aware he was not a fan of Michael Flynn and why would he be given this was a person who had been critical in a public way (tv, media appearances and campaigning with candidate Trump) of Obama. It is worth noting Flynn previously served in the Obama administration.”
Obama, of course, had fired Flynn as defense intelligence chief for insubordination. Another staffer said Trump took Obama’s remarks to be made in jest.
So breaking it down, the Trump administration is making at least three arguments: 1) Trump didn’t take Obama seriously on Flynn because Obama had personal reasons to be mad at Flynn; 2) it’s all Obama’s fault for hiring Flynn in the first place, which gave Trump every reason to trust Flynn; and 3) Trump thought Obama was joking,
This type of contradictory reasoning (which Freud called “kettle logic”) is old hat for Trump and now seems to be the fallback position of his staffers as well.