National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night after admitting that he had delivered “incomplete information” to the vice president regarding his calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn held several calls with the Russian envoy during the transition. According to the Associated Press, “Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama Administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition.”
Administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, were under the impression that Flynn had not discussed sanctions with the ambassador.
Now, amid reports that Flynn misled Pence and other officials, the adviser admits that he did discuss the sanctions with Kislyak. “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 by apology,” wrote Flynn in his resignation letter.
Some worry that Flynn may have offered assurances to Russia about the new administration’s plans, and critics argue that he violated the antiquated “Logan Act” by negotiating with a foreign government before taking office.
CNN notes that the “key issue internally was whether he told the truth to Pence,” not whether he spoke to Russia about the sanctions.
The Dems have asked Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) to investigate Flynn’s suspicious ties with Russia. For example, Russia paid Flynn in 2015 to attend a gala dinner for a Kremlin-backed TV station; he sat next to Putin.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) insists that Flynn “cannot be trusted not to put Putin before America,” and calls for him to be fired.
Last week, the Washington Post suggested Flynn had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. Relying on the information they had from Flynn, top White House officials denied these claims. On January 15th, Pence told CBS News that Flynn did not speak with Kislyak about the sanctions.
The Justice Department allegedly warned administration officials weeks ago that inconsistencies between public depictions and Flynn’s actual phone calls could leave the adviser in a compromised position. Former acting AG Sally Yates said Flynn had mislead administration officials and could be open to Russian blackmail.
“Moreover, the Trump administration has yet to be forthcoming about who was aware of Flynn’s conversations with the ambassador and whether he was acting on the instruction of the president or any other officials, or with their knowledge,” says Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump “absolutely” was not aware that Flynn had discussed sanctions with the ambassador.
In the meantime, President Trump has selected retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg to act as national security adviser in Flynn’s place.
Editor’s note: Something is off here. It would be no big deal for someone nominated to be National Security Adviser to speak with the Russian Ambassador, even to speak about sanctions. The Logan Act would not apply since he was in line for the advisory position. If Flynn could be prosecuted for that, then even Trump would be in trouble as a president-elect speaking to foreign leaders since he was not yet President in the transition.
In any event, there is not excuse not to fully inform Trump and Pence on the conversations. That misleading, forgetful or whatever line of communication was Flynn’s downfall.