Why you should fear the leaks that felled Mike Flynn
- Author: Leroy Wright Feb 15, 2017,
Feb 15, 2017, 17:33
Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence he had not discussed US sanctions against Russia with Russian officials, prompting Pence to defend him in subsequent television interviews.
Flynn admitted in his resignation letter he gave "incomplete information" to Vice President Mike Pence and others about his conversation with Russia's ambassador to the United States. Reasons for the timing gap are unclear.
Flynn's talk with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, came a day before President Barack Obama's administration announced sanctions on the Russian government after us intelligence agencies concluded that top officials interfered in the 2016 elections to help elect Trump.
Pence insisted in television interviews in mid-January that Flynn hadn't spoken about sanctions with Kislyak.
At one point, he said he hoped Mrs Clinton's emails had been stolen by the Russians and would be made public.
The reports were published as the Trump administration struggles to shake-off the fall-out from the resignation of the nation's top security official.
Foreign policy observers had long anticipated that Trump would lift sanctions on Russia as his opening gambit to signal his commitment to improving US-Russian ties. Private citizens, as Flynn was at the time, are prohibited from engaging in acts of diplomacy.
The comments came in response to a White House statement Tuesday that said President Donald Trump "expects" Russian Federation to return to Ukraine the Black Sea peninsula Russian Federation annexed in March 2014.
"General Flynn's resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration's intentions toward Vladimir Putin's Russian Federation", he said.
"In the hours since Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser late Monday, two narratives have emerged".
Mr Trump named retired Lt Gen Keith Kellogg as acting national security adviser.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that American law enforcement and intelligence agencies found "repeated contacts" between Mr Trump's campaign staff and associates and senior Russian intelligence operatives in the year leading up to the election - actions prominent Democrats have since said could amount to treason. "They feared that "Flynn had put himself in a compromising position" and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled, according to one of the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters". Some mainstream U.S. media claimed the former national security adviser discussed the prospect of lifting economic sanctions, but the Kremlin has denied the allegations, saying that the issue was never raised during the conversations.
There was no comment early today from either the White House or the Russian authorities.
Sens. Ed Markey (D) of MA and Chris Murphy (D) of CT called Friday for an investigation of Lt. Gen. Flynn, a retired Army general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The announcement is a stark departure from days of non-committal statements made by Trump spokespersons amid controversy over Flynn's contacts with Russian officials.
Democrats say the issues demand more than that.