The White House announced that President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn has resigned over his contacts with Russia.
Michael Flynn is alleged of talking about U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassadors before Mr. Trump took office.
It was also reported earlier that the Justice Department warned the White House about the contacts late last month. They suspected that Mr. Flynn would be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
Senior Democrats unanimously raised their voice and demanded the resignation of Mr. Flynn on the basis that it is illegal for a private citizen to conduct U.S. diplomacy, and the calls took place close to the end of the last year before Mr. Flynn was appointed in the administration. The role of a national security adviser is to serve as the chief adviser to the President on international affairs and defense.
Mr. Flynn’s take on the phone call
Mr. Flynn said in his resignation letter that he had “”inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”
The statement from White House announced Lt. Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg as the temporary replacement for the post.
Initially, Mr. Flynn had denied discussing sanctions with the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Vice-President Mike Pence also rejected the allegations. Mr. Flynn, however, later told the White House that sanctions might have been discussed.
Russia, for their part, rejected the claims as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Mr. Flynn didn’t discuss lifting sanctions with Mr. Kislyak.
What was the reaction to the phone call?
Several House Democrats demanded Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr. Flynn’s alleged ties with Russia.
Susan Collins, Republican Senator from Maine, stated that it would be “troubling” if Flynn had been negotiating with a foreign government before assuming office.
Mr. Flynn, who was fired by Barack Obama as a head of Defense Intelligence Agency, had been an ardent supporter of Trump campaign and became a close ally of both the President and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
He came under fire when he suggested a softer policy on Russia; he also encouraged a tougher stance on Iran.
Mr. Flynn floundered when his spokesman backtracked and said that Mr. Flynn “couldn’t be certain” on whether he discussed sanctions with Russia. White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Monday that Trump had “full confidence” in Mr. Flynn. Sean Spicer later said that the situation was being evaluated by the President, and the resignation followed within a couple of hours.
Retired Lt. Gen Joseph Kellogg, who replaces Mr. Flynn, is not a newcomer to the Trump team. He has more than 30 years of experience in the Army and served in Vietnam, Panama, Cambodia and the Gulf
He advised Mr. Trump during the election campaign on national security issues and was appointed as the chief of the National Security Council in the new administration.