There were previous concerns expressed regarding President Trump’s National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. The concern was that Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency, would discuss sanctions with foreign officials. The calls are monitored regularly by law enforcement and the US intelligence agencies. CNN reported that Flynn and Kislyak did indeed discuss sanctions, as well as other confidential matters, during a call that was made in December, while Flynn was a member of President-elect Trumps transition team.
Although Mike Flynn declared that the contacts had been insipid, allegations spread that Flynn and the ambassador had, in fact, talked about sanctions that had been imposed by the Obama administration in an effort to punish Russia for their involvement in the November presidential election, particularly by leaking the emails of the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
In retaliation for the Russian interference in the election, sanctions were imposed at the end of former President Barack Obama’s reign. Flynn, not yet in a government office, spoke to the Russian Ambassador and then claimed that he did not discuss Obama’s sanctions.
The Justice Department notified Trump’s administration in January that they had been misled by Flynn in regards to the content of his communication with the Russian ambassador. Flynn, after the communications, was left vulnerable to potential Russian blackmail. Mike Flynn resigned late Monday, February 13, after the extent of his contacts with Russia became known. Flynn was fired for insubordination from his previous position in the Obama Administration. Mike Flynn’s resignation from the Trump Administration marks the second presidential administration that Mike Flynn has left.
Over the past few days, Flynn has been the nucleus of a controversy regarding his contact with Sergey Kislyk, the Russian Ambassador. Flynn’s inaccurate briefing to Vice President Mike Pence caused Pence to forcefully defended Flynn. In his interviews following the initial reports, Pence claimed that he had spoken about the controversy to Flynn, and Flynn had assured him that he had not spoken with the Russian ambassador about the sanctions, which had been levied by the Obama administration.
Pence told CBS News that Flynn and the ambassador “did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.” Criticism of Flynn grew when reports of the investigation proved that Flynn had, in fact, misled Vice President Pence. The White house initially blamed much of the controversy on Washing culture, however, when the contacts with Russia were confirmed, Trump’s team no longer went to Flynn’s defense.
During the day on Monday, as new information of Russian connections came to light, Trump’s White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump was evaluating the situation. When Flynn resigned just before midnight on Monday, he wrote about the nature of his contacts with Russia in his letter of resignation.
“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.”
In his half-insubordinate and half-repentant letter of resignation, Flynn wrote that he sincerely apologized to both Pence and President Trump for unintentionally misleading them with partial information.
“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.”
— The Guardian (@guardian) February 14, 2017
President Trump has temporarily replaced Flynn with Keith Kellogg, another retired three-star general. Permanent replacements could potentially include David Petraeus, who was previously a four-star commander who engineered a successful counterinsurgency force in Iraq. Supporters may see this is a chance for President Trump and his administration to rearrange national security after a controversial start.
Some may still worry that Flynn’s resignation is not enough to fix what ails Trump’s administration. Trump’s administration already has a pitiable relation with the press. This relationship will be further diminished by the role the media has taken in this controversy. As stated in a post by the Economist, The atmosphere among the President’s officials is also disintegrating.
“Political appointees brought in by Mr. Trump have formed into warring factions” and “all sides are briefing against each other.” Only time will tell.
[Featured image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]