On Monday evening, after days of speculation about his future, National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn resigned from the Trump administration. Flynn reportedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump administration about the extent of his communications with the Russian government prior to Trump’s inauguration. The Department of Justice told the White House that Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence.
Here’s the Washington Post’s explanation of the chain of events:
In a Feb. 8 interview with The Washington Post, Flynn categorically denied discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, repeating public assertions made in January by top Trump officials. One day after the interview, Flynn revised his account, telling The Post through a spokesman that he “couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”…. U.S. intelligence reports during the 2016 presidential campaign showed that Kislyak was in touch with Flynn, officials said. Communications between the two continued after Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, according to officials with access to intelligence reports on the matter.
Trump officials including press secretary Sean Spicer and Vice President Pence informed the media that nothing regarding sanctions was discussed on the phone calls, apparently based on Flynn’s say-so.
Flynn will be replaced by his chief of staff, Lt. General Joseph Kellogg, for the moment. Trump is reportedly interviewing others, including General David Petraeus, for the slot as well.
Earlier today, Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC that Flynn had Trump’s full confidence. That, obviously, was untrue; within the hour, press secretary Sean Spicer told the press that a statement from the administration was forthcoming. None of this will do much to shore up trust issues between the Trump team and the American people and the press. Flynn’s ouster could also raise new questions about his close ties to Russia overall.
Here’s Flynn’s resignation letter:
In the course of my duties as the incoming National Security Advisor, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors. These calls were to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships between the President, his advisors and foreign leaders. Such calls are standard practice in any transition of this magnitude.
Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.
Throughout my over thirty three years of honorable military service, and my tenure as the National Security Advisor, I have always performed my duties with the utmost of integrity and honesty to those I have served, to include the President of the United States.
I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way.
I am also extremely honored to have served President Trump, who in just three weeks, has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America’s leadership position in the world.
As I step away once again from serving my nation in this current capacity, I wish to thank President Trump for his personal loyalty, the friendship of those who I worked with throughout the hard fought campaign, the challenging period of transition, and during the early days of his presidency.
I know with the strong leadership of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the superb team they are assembling, this team will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in U.S. history, and I firmly believe the American people will be well served as they all work together to help Make America Great Again.
Michael T. Flynn, LTG (Ret)
Assistant to the President / National Security Advisor