Fired by one American commander-in-chief for insubordination, Michael Flynn has now delivered his resignation to another.
CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.
Michael Flynn resigns as Trump's National Security AdviserFired by one American commander-in-chief for insubordination, Michael Flynn has now delivered his resignation to another. CGTN's Jessica Stone reports.
President Donald Trump had been weighing the fate of his national security adviser, a hard-charging, feather-ruffling retired lieutenant general who just three weeks into the new administration put himself in the center of a controversy. Flynn resigned late Monday.
At issue was Flynn’s contact with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington. Flynn and the Russian appear to have discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia late last year, raising questions about whether he was freelancing on foreign policy while President Barack Obama was still in office and whether he misled Trump officials about the calls.
In his resignation letter, Flynn said he gave Vice President Mike Pence and others “incomplete information” about his calls with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.
According to the Washington Post, last month Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, informed the Trump White House last month there was reason to believe Flynn had misled administration officials about contents of his call with the Russian ambassador. Yates also warned that because of his false statements, Flynn was “potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.”
The uncertainty about his future had deepened Monday when the White House issued a statement saying that Trump is “evaluating the situation” surrounding Flynn. In his resignation letter, Flynn said he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the transition and gave “incomplete information” about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence.
In Trump’s first Tweet after Flynn’s resignation, the president implied the important issue was the number of leaks coming out of Washington.
The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 14, 2017
On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump made the “right decision” to ask for the resignation of Michael Flynn. The Wisconsin Republican told reporters that you cannot have the national security adviser misleading Vice President Mike Pence and others in the administration.
The Washington Post and other U.S. newspapers, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported last week that Flynn made explicit references to U.S. sanctions on Russia in conversations with Putin’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. One of the calls took place on Dec. 29, the day Obama announced new penalties against Russia’s top intelligence agencies over allegations they meddled in the election with the objective of helping Trump win.
While it’s not unusual for incoming administrations to have discussions with foreign governments before taking office, the repeated contacts just as the U.S. was pulling the trigger on sanctions suggests Trump’s team might have helped shape Russia’s response. They also contradicted denials about such sanctions discussions by several Trump administration officials, including the vice president. Some Democratic lawmakers want a congressional investigation.
For days, Trump had been publicly and unusually quiet on the matter. While his aides declared the president has confidence in Flynn, Trump privately told associates he was troubled by the situation, according to a person who spoke with him recently.
The center of a storm is a familiar place for Flynn. 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. But a former senior U.S. official said the firing was for insubordination, after Flynn failed to follow guidance from superiors.
Flynn’s sparkling military resume had included key assignments at home and abroad, and high praise from superiors.
After leaving the military, Flynn plunged into civilian life and moved to capitalize on his military and intelligence connections and experience. He opened his own consulting firm, Flynn Intelligence Group, assembling a crew of former armed forces veterans with expertise in cyber, logistics and surveillance.
In December 2015, he appeared at a Moscow banquet headlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2016, Flynn, a lifelong if apolitical Democrat, became a trusted and eager confidant of Trump, joining anti-Hillary Clinton campaign chants of “Lock Her Up” and tweeting that “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”
As national security adviser, Flynn required no Senate confirmation vote or extreme vetting of his record.
Story compiled with material from The Associated Press
P.J. Crowley talks about White House reactions to Flynn’s resignation
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation is considered the first major administration shakeup under Trump’s presidency. To discuss the resignation and the White House’s reaction to it, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to P.J. Crowley, the former Assistant Secretary of State.