Embattled National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned from his post Monday night, a few short weeks after the Justice Department informed the White House that it believed he could be subjected to blackmail.
The Washington Post reports that Sally Yates, then-acting attorney general, informed the White House of the possible breach late last month. Yates was later fired because of her refusal to support Trump’s travel ban.
Yates and others were concerned that Flynn had been in contact with a Russian diplomat through texts and calls and discussed sanctions against the country because of its interference with the 2016 election through hacking.
The thing that seemed to have done Flynn in, though, was that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials about these communications with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States.
The Vice President then embarrassingly repeated the misinformation in television appearances.
The Post reports that in a Feb. 8 interview with the outlet, “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.”
“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,” Flynn said in his resignation letter.
Trump, who is almost loyal to a fault to his choices for cabinet positions, reportedly said that Flynn had to go because he lied to him and Pence (and not because our national security was at risk for playing footsie with the Russians).
Flynn, it should be noted, was fired by President Obama. Fox News reports that his military career ended when Obama dismissed him as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014. Flynn has said he was pushed out for holding tougher views than Obama about Islamic extremism (this was a man who once said, “fear of Muslims is rational”). But Fox reports that a former senior U.S. official said the firing was for insubordination, after Flynn failed to follow guidance from superiors.
“I think misleading the vice president was the key,” said Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway on the Today show on Tuesday morning.