Toronto - Just hours after top Trump Advisor, Kellyanne Conway, announced to US media that embattled National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, enjoyed the “full confidence” of US President Trump, Flynn announced his resignation, according to the CBC.
Toronto – Just hours after top Trump Advisor, Kellyanne Conway, announced to US media that embattled National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, enjoyed the “full confidence” of US President Trump, Flynn announced his resignation, according to the CBC.
Late last night, Flynn admitted publicly that he had given what he called “incomplete information” to then Vice President-elect Mike Pence and others, regarding phone calls he’d had with the Russian Ambassador, before Trump was elected to office. It is illegal in the United States for a private citizen to speak to foreign officials.
From the moment the revelations that he had spoken to ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, about sanctions against Russia came to light, Michael Flynn heard his future being speculated upon by friends and enemies alike.
The Back Story
At first, when the allegations came to light, Flynn vehemently denied any knowledge of such conversations taking place, although phone calls with the ambassador were admitted to. The situation was made much worse when, based on a personal conversation with him, Vice President Mike Pence faced the media and stuck up for Flynn, defending him on national television.
In a January 15 interview with CBS News, Pence said, “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censures against Russia.”
As the scandal gained momentum, Flynn came forward with a different version of the story, saying he couldn’t be certain that he had or had not discussed the topic of sanctions during the call with Ambassador Kislyak.
Pence and other senior White House advisors, hasn’t been happy with the thought that Flynn may have misled him (Pence) into publicly defending him. “The knives are out. There’s a lot of unhappiness about this,” said a White House official. Some who had believed Flynn innocent of the allegations were now believing he was guilty.
Top Advisor Gets it Wrong
According to the same source, by late Friday afternoon, Flynn’s future as National Security Advisor was less than certain and Trump was being strangely silent on Twitter. Most observers attributed this to the President’s extremely close relationship with Flynn. The two men went back a long way, with Flynn being one of Trump’s earliest supporters and a one-time contender for the position of Vice-President. This controversy, however, definitely caused a rift between Flynn and Pence, which a senior White House advisor called “a problem.”
According to the BBC, on a February 12 appearance on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd, top Trump policy advisor, Stephen Miller, was asked about the controversy and to give a comment on Flynn’s possible future. Miller called it “a sensitive matter” but refused to comment further. Asked if President Trump still had confidence in Flynn as National Security Advisor, Miller answered “That’s a question that I think you should ask the President.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.
According to a report by Reuters, Flynn had apologized to Pence. When asked about the situation aboard Air Force 1 on Friday, Trump promised reporters he would look into it, but strained credibility by claiming he knew nothing of the entire situation.
It was expected that the topic would be raised during the press conference session of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to Washington to meet US President Trump for the first time. The journalists and questions, however, had been careful screened ahead of time. Not a single question addressed the scandal.
Then, at approximately 4:52pm on Friday, in an interview with MSNBC, top Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway was asked about Trump’s position on the Flynn controversy. “General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the President,” Conway announced, before declining to offer any details on how much or little Trump knows of the subject, citing them as private conversations. Following Conway’s comment, press secretary, Sean Spicer, announced instead that the President was “evaluating the situation,” implying there was more going on in the Oval Office regarding the situation.
Cue the Resignation
Late last night, Michael Flynn faced the media and announced that the President and Vice President had accepted his resignation. “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 announced.
Russian reaction to the Flynn furor has ranged from the muted to the sublime. Official reaction was to call the situation “an internal matter,” but MP Konstantin Kosachev elaborated on a more popular theory that the new administration has been “infected” by anti-Russian sentiment. In a statement for the RIA Novostic news agency, Kosachev said, “Either Trump has not gained the requisite independence and he is consequently being not unsuccessfully backed into a corner, or Russophobia has already infected the new administration also from top to bottom.”
Critics and sideline observers alike are agreeing that Flynn’s resignation effectively “upends Trump’s senior team” after less than one month in office. The resignation may, on the surface, appear to resolve the scandal. Inside sources, however, who insist on anonymity, are expressing concerns over questions Flynn’s resignation are raising.
Who are the “others” who were possibly misled by Flynn’s misinformation? How much do we really know about who knew what and when they knew? It’s known now that the Justice Department warned the White House of the potential depth of the scandal weeks ago. What happened in between those warnings and Flynn’s resignation? Serious questions are now being raised over Trump’s “friendly posture” regarding Russia and speculation is rife that the scandal could go much deeper. Michael Flynn could be just the first to fall on his sword.
The Beat Goes On
The daily business of governing must go on. To that end, Lt. General Keith Kellogg has been appointed interim National Security Advisor, until the administration can regroup and present their permanent candidate.