President-elect Donald Trump spent a lot of time on the campaign trail lambasting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information — criticism that was loudly echoed by his pick for national security advisor, retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn.
Now documents have provided the first official account of the investigation into Flynn’s own mishandling of classified information.
Flynn “inappropriately shared” classified information with foreign military officers in Afghanistan, according to newly released Army records obtained by the Washington Post. The documents show that a secret military investigation of Flynn in 2010 concluded that he did not act “knowingly” and that his actions did not threaten national security.
According to the Post, the information Flynn shared concerned CIA operations in Afghanistan.
Flynn had previously acknowledged that he had been under investigation while serving as the head of Army intelligence in Afghanistan, but he maintained he did nothing wrong. When the Post asked him, in August, why the government had investigated him, Flynn responded, “Because that’s what the government does.”
“The investigation on me was for sharing intelligence with the Brits and Australians in combat, and I’m proud of that one,” Flynn told the Post. “I did it with the right permissions when you dig into the investigation. I’m proud of that one. Accuse me of sharing intelligence in combat with our closest allies, please.”
In addition to saying he was allowed to share the information, Flynn said that he didn’t intend to harm national security — a defense similar to the one Clinton used when questioned about the private, unsecured email server she used while she was Secretary of State. The Army investigation, however, found that Flynn was not allowed to share the information, and an independent inquiry by the Department of Defense came to the same conclusion. Flynn received a warning from his bosses but did not face any punishment.
Flynn also reportedly installed a private Internet connection in his Pentagon office, which was forbidden.
The Trump transition team did not respond to a request for comment.
On the campaign trail this year, Flynn joined Trump in repeatedly calling for Clinton’s imprisonment. During his speech at the Republican National Convention, Flynn led the crowd in chants of “Lock her up.”
“If I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did,” Flynn said at the convention, “I would be in jail today.”