By any measure, Michael Flynn’s brief stint as White House national security adviser was not a success. After barely more than three weeks on the job, he resigned in disgrace late Monday thanks to reports that he had discussed lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia with a Moscow representative prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration and then misled White House officials about the exchange.
As the first high-profile departure from Trump’s administration — and possibly the first domino to fall in the multiple inquiries regarding Trump’s links with Russia— Flynn almost certainly made history this week. But it wasn’t just the circumstances of his departure that are remarkable; it’s the speed with which he left the building.
Flynn had a shorter tenure than any other national security adviser since the office was created in 1953, according to a Kansas State University political scientist who is also, coincidentally, named Michael Flynn. In a post for the academic blog The Quantitative Peace, Prof. Flynn found that the more famous Flynn’s scant 24 days in the role put him 124 days behind the next runner-up, Eisenhower appointee William Harding Jackson.
The longest-lasting national security adviser was Henry Kissinger, who had the dubious honor of serving under both Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
It “seems reasonable to conclude that Flynn, who was incredibly controversial prior to his appointment, would not have been viewed as an appropriate choice for this position under previous presidents,” writes the other Flynn, “and his departure says something important about the administration’s selection and vetting of candidates.”