Flynn re­signs

Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser told to leave af­ter los­ing Trump’s trust, spokesman says

Cape Breton Post - - WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ousted his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser be­cause he lost trust in him, not for any le­gal con­cern, Trump’s spokesman said Tues­day.

White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said that the “ero­sion of that trust” over the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing re­tired Gen. Michael Flynn’s calls with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the U.S. cre­ated “a crit­i­cal mass and an un­sus­tain­able si­t­u­a­tion.”

Flynn’s ouster ap­peared to be driven more by the idea that he had mis­led Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and other of­fi­cials than by the con­tent of his dis­cus­sions with Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador. Still, the mat­ter deep­ened ques­tions about Trump’s friendly pos­ture to­ward Rus­sia.

“This was an act of trust — whether or not he mis­led the vice-pres­i­dent was the is­sue and that was ul­ti­mately what led to the pres­i­dent ask­ing for and ac­cept­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Gen. Flynn,” Spicer said.

Flynn’s res­ig­na­tion came af­ter re­ports that the Jus­tice Department had alerted the White House weeks ago that there were con­tra­dic­tions be­tween Trump of­fi­cials’ pub­lic ac­count­ing of the Rus­sia con­tacts and what in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials knew to be true based on rou­tine record­ings of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with for­eign of­fi­cials who are in the U.S.

Spicer said White House coun­sel’s of­fice re­viewed the si­t­u­a­tion af­ter it was flagged by the Department of Jus­tice, and along with the pres­i­dent, the coun­sel de­ter­mined that it did not pose a le­gal prob­lem.

He de­clined to com­ment on whether any­one at the White House had read tran­scripts of the calls be­tween Flynn and the am­bas­sador.

The rev­e­la­tions were an­other desta­bi­liz­ing blow to an ad­min­is­tra­tion that has al­ready suf­fered a ma­jor le­gal de­feat on im­mi­gra­tion, botched the im­ple­men­ta­tion of a sig­na­ture pol­icy and stum­bled through a string of em­bar­rass­ing pub­lic relations mis­steps.

White House of­fi­cials haven’t said when Trump was told of the Jus­tice Department warn­ing or why Flynn had been al­lowed to stay on the job with ac­cess to a full range of in­tel­li­gence ma­te­ri­als.

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., a long­time Rus­sia critic, said Congress needs to know what Flynn dis­cussed with the am­bas­sador and why.

“The idea that he did this on his own with­out any di­rec­tion is a good ques­tion to ask,” Gra­ham added.

Pence and oth­ers, ap­par­ently re­ly­ing on in­for­ma­tion from Flynn, had said the na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser did not dis­cuss U.S. eco­nomic sanc­tions against Rus­sia with the Rus­sian en­voy dur­ing the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion. Flynn later told of­fi­cials the sanc­tions may have been dis­cussed, the lat­est change in his ac­count of his prein­au­gu­ra­tion dis­cus­sions with Am­bas­sador Sergey Kislyak.

Such con­ver­sa­tions would breach diplo­matic pro­to­col and pos­si­bly vi­o­late the Lo­gan Act, a law aimed at keep­ing pri­vate cit­i­zens from con­duct­ing U.S. diplo­macy. The Jus­tice Department had warned the White House late last month that Flynn could be at risk for black­mail be­cause of con­tra­dic­tions be­tween his pub­lic de­pic­tions of the calls and what in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials.

Asked whether the pres­i­dent had been aware that Flynn might have planned to dis­cuss sanc­tions with the Rus­sian en­voy, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, “No, ab­so­lutely not.”

AP PHOTO

White House Press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer takes ques­tions from the me­dia dur­ing the daily brief­ing in the Brady Press Brief­ing Room of the White House in Wash­ing­ton, Tues­day.

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