US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigns

In a resignation letter, Flynn said he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition and gave "incomplete information" about those discussions to Vice President Mike Pence.

Michael Flynn stepped down as national security adviser after acknowledging he misled the White House over his talks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg speaks to reporters at Trump Tower in NY on November 15, 2016.

Former CIA director David Petraeus speaks to the media after a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower on November 28, 2016.

A new report alleges members of Donald Trump's team was in contact with Russian intelligence officials during the year leading up to the presidential election.

An administration official and two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed the Justice Department warnings on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was unclear when Trump and Pence learned about the Justice Department outreach.

Trump has appointed retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg as acting adviser - but whether the president brings him on permanently or taps someone else like Flynn, who was known for his maverick temperament, remains to be seen.

Even before the Post report, the White House was signaling that Flynn's future was in doubt.

The turning point, Spicer said, was a Washington Post story published on Thursday in which Flynn, through a spokesman, said for the first time he could not say with 100 percent certainty that he had not discussed sanctions with Kislyak.

The new report claims Paul Manafort - Trump's former campaign chairman - was one of the people who spoke to Russian intelligence. Current and former US officials interviewed by the Times declined to identify other Trump associates contacted by the Russians.

Flynn's discussions with the Russian raised questions about whether Flynn offered assurances about the incoming administration's new approach.

"The Logan Act is a red herring".

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, said Trump only moved against Flynn because of news media attention, not concern about any wrongdoing.

Trump had earlier called for a probe of leaks in the West Wing after details of phone conversations he had with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto were made public.

As to the resignation of Michael Flynn on Tuesday, Chaffetz called it "the right decision".

There was a sense among some officials that while Flynn was on thin ice, he did not appear to be in imminent danger of losing his position, the third official said.

"I am going to be asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation to do an assessment of this to tell us what's going on here because we can not continue to have these leaks as a government", Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told Fox News late Monday. She said it would also be "troubling" if Flynn had been negotiating with a foreign government before taking office.

The burgeoning scandal forced Trump to choose between an adviser who had been with him nearly since the beginning of his presidential campaign and his vice president, who gave a public defense of Flynn based on what he'd been told by the national security adviser.

USA intelligence agencies wiretapped the incoming NSA's conversations with the Ambassador, and the episodic media leaks of its content and follow-up actions claimed his scalp.

Flynn's resignation comes as Trump and his top advisers seek to steady the White House after a rocky start.

As late as 4 p.m. on Monday Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said in a television interview that Flynn "does enjoy the full confidence of the president".

Trump voiced support for Priebus on Monday, saying the chief of staff was doing, "not a good job, a great job". But he did not make a similar show of support for his national security adviser. Flynn's conversations may have violated the Logan Act, a law meant to prevent private citizens from conducting U.S. diplomacy, and would certainly be against normal diplomatic protocols.

Flynn, who has admitted only to providing "incomplete information" and not lying, could be looking at more trouble as he is reported to have not been completely forthcoming when Federal Bureau of Investigation agents interviewed him about the call in the early days of the Trump administration, which could pose him legal problems. Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter during the campaign, but he is viewed skeptically by some in the administration's national security circles, in part because of his ties to Russian Federation.

Image copyright AP Image caption Mr Flynn was pictured dining with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in December 2015 What happens next?

Flynn had initially denied discussing sanctions with the Russians in the weeks before Trump took office January 20 and Vice President Mike Pence went before the television cameras to repeat the denial and defend Flynn.

Kellogg takes the helm of the National Security Council at a time when the young administration is grappling with a series of national security challenges, including North Korea's reported ballistic missile launch. The president, who was joined at his Mar-a-Lago estate by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the weekend, voiced solidarity with Japan.

The White House is also dealing with fallout from the rocky rollout of Trump's immigration executive order, which has been blocked by the courts. The order was meant to suspend the nation's refugee program and bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

  • Leroy Wright