Former U.S. President Barack Obama made it clear to then President-elect Donald Trump that he did not support Michael Flynn, whom Trump later fired as national security adviser in connection with his contacts with Russian officials, the White House said on May 8.
The comments by White House spokesman Sean Spicer came hours after a wave of media reports citing former Obama administration officials as saying that Obama personally delivered a warning about Flynn to his successor shortly after Trump's stunning victory in the November presidential election.
Flynn has emerged as a central figure in the continuing furor over alleged contacts between Trump's associates and Russian officials last year.
Federal authorities and several Congressional committees are investigating both that matter and alleged Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.
"It's true that the president, President Obama, made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of General Flynn's," during his meeting with Trump in the White House on November 10, two days after Trump's victory, Spicer told reporters in Washington.
He added that this "frankly shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, given that General Flynn had worked for President Obama, was an outspoken critic of President Obama's shortcomings."
Obama had hired and fired Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The specific basis for his warning, which was first reported by NBC News, was not immediately clear.
Flynn lasted less than a month in Trump's administration. He was fired by the president for failing to tell the truth about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, after Trump's election but before the president-elect took office.
The reports of Obama’s warning to Trump emerged hours before two top former Obama administration officials were scheduled to testify before a Senate committee as part of an investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The May 8 Senate hearing was slated to hear testimony from Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general who stayed on with the Trump administration before being fired after 10 days.
Yates is expected to testify about what the Trump White House knew about Flynn's communications with Russian officials before and after the election.
Ahead of the hearing, Trump wrote on Twitter that it was Obama's administration that granted the "highest security clearance" to Flynn.
He also took a swipe at Yates, saying Senators should ask her "if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel."
With reporting by NBC News, AP, Reuters, AFP, CNN, and The Washington Post