Michael Flynn: A Timeline of His Rise and Fall and the Russia Call

Mike Flynn fallout: A timeline of how we got here 3:54

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that President Donald Trump asked National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to resign 18 days after he was informed that Flynn had, in fact, discussed sanctions in a December phone call with the Russian ambassador —despite Flynn’s earlier denials.

Below are some other key events in the timeline leading to Flynn’s ouster:

Summer 2015 — Flynn first meets Trump, according to an interview he gave to the Washington Post.

Dec. 2015 — Flynn took a paid trip to Russia and appeared at a gala for RT, the state-run TV station, where he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

June 2016 — Russian hackers are identified as the culprits behind hacking of Democratic institutions and figures; U.S. officials will later say Putin was involved and the goal was to meddle with the electoral process.

Nov. 18, 2016 — President-Elect Trump names Flynn his national security adviser.

Dec. 29, 2016 — Obama administration unveils sanctions against Russia for election-related hacking, expelling diplomats and shutting down two compounds. The same day, Flynn speaks to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak by phone.

Dec. 30, 2016 — Putin says he won't retaliate for the sanctions and invites children from the U.S. embassy to a Christmas party. Trump then praises Putin in a tweet.

Sometime after Dec. 30, 2016 — The FBI reviews intercepts and finds the Flynn-Kislyak conversation. The matter gets folded into the FBI's ongoing probe into Russian election-related hacking and related issues.

Jan. 11, 2017 — Trump denies members of his staff had contact with Russia before the election, during the campaign.

Jan. 12 — Washington Post columnist David Ignatius first reports the contact between Flynn and Kislyak, raising questions about whether sanctions were discussed.

Image: Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S.
Sergey Kislyak Cliff Owen / AP, file

Jan. 13 — Trump spokesman Sean Spicer says Flynn did not discuss sanctions with the ambassador and the purpose of the call was to schedule a time for Trump and Putin to speak post-inauguration.

Jan. 15 — Vice President Mike Pence tells CBS's "Face the Nation" that sanctions were not discussed: “It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation. They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia."

Jan. 19 — Obama administration officials — Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and Acting Attorney General Sally Yates — discuss the situation and want to warn the Trump team that Flynn has misled Spicer and Pence. FBI Director James Comey vetoes that, saying it will compromise his ongoing investigation.

Image: U.S. Vice President Pence greets National Security Advisor Flynn before Abe-Trump news conference at the White House in Washington.
Vice President Mike Pence greets National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Feb. 10. JOSHUA ROBERTS / Reuters

Jan. 20 — Trump inaugurated.

Jan. 20 or 21 — The FBI questions Flynn about his call to the ambassador as part of the bureau’s broader investigation into Russia, according to a senior U.S. official.

Jan. 23 — At Spicer's first White House press briefing, he says that Flynn assured him the night before that the Flynn-Kislyak call did not involve sanctions. The subject, Spicer says, was a plane crash over the holiday, Christmas greetings, a potential conference in Syria on ISIS, and scheduling a call with Putin.

Jan. 26 — Acting AG Yates tells White House Counsel Donald McGahn what she knows about the call, according to the White House. Trump was told immediately, Spicer says, and the White House counsel launched an "exhuastive" review that included questioning of Flynn.

Jan. 30 — Trump fires Yates, saying she's being axed for refusing to defend his executive order temporarily banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Image: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates
Sally Yates J. David Ake / AP

Feb. 9 — The Washington Post reports that Flynn, according to current and former U.S. officials, did discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador; officials confirm the content of the discussion to NBC News. This day is the first time Pence is informed of the Justice Department warning about Flynn's call — two weeks after Trump was told.

Feb. 10 — A spokesperson for Flynn tells NBC News that Flynn "can't be 100 percent sure," but doesn't remember talking sanctions. Trump denies knowledge of the reports that Flynn and the Russian talked sanctions. "I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?" he tells reporters. Also that day, Flynn speaks by phone to Pence, reportedly to apologize to him.

Feb. 13 — Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway tells NBC News that Flynn has the full confidence of the president. Moments later, Spicer says Trump is evaluating the situation. Hours after that, Flynn resigns, saying he "inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador."

Feb. 14 — At a press briefing, Spicer says Trump asked Flynn to resign because of a erosion of trust — not because any laws were broken.