Flynn Resigns Over Russia Communications
On Feb. 13, Michael Flynn resigned the position of national security advisor. This followed the revelation that he had discussed US sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, prior to the inauguration. Many believe that Flynn also misled Vice President Pence about the nature of these conversations.
The Washington Post had previously reported that Flynn had gone far beyond the usual role of an incoming national security advisor in his conversations with Kislyak, citing nine current and former intelligence officials. The Post reported, “all of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.”
Flynn previously denied having spoken to Kislyak about diplomatic issues. In an interview quoted by the Washington Post, Flynn responded “no” when asked whether he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. His spokesman later changed the story, saying that Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
Prior to Feb. 9, Pence denied Flynn’s communication with Kislyak on Face the Nation, stating that “[t]hey did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”CNN reported that Flynn “misled” Pence about the details of his Russian contact.
According to the New York Times, the conversations that Flynn had with Kislyak are the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation. Flynn could have violated the Logan Act, a law that prohibits private citizens from engaging in foreign diplomacy.
The Washington Post found out that the Justice Department had warned the White House about Flynn on Jan. 26, citing inconsistencies in his story. The Justice Department feared that Flynn may have been vulnerable to blackmail. The administration kept the warning strictly in house and did not act on it until Flynn’s dealing became public knowledge.
His resignation less than a month into the Trump presidency is a devastating blow to the administration. According to the BBC, Democrats in the Senate and two Republican senators are calling for an independent investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia. The Washington Post also reported that Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader, said that it was “highly likely” that Flynn’s conduct would be added to the broader probe into Russian election interference.
This incident has caused serious discontentment in Congress and has compromised Trump’s political capital on the hill.
Flynn’s resignation marks the shortest tenure of any national security advisor, and the political landscape surrounding his resignation appears to be as fluid as the White House’s story on the matter. The FBI and press investigation into the scandal is ongoing.