Conway: Flynn resigned because he’d become ‘a lightning rod’

Conway: Flynn resigned because he'd become 'a lightning rod'

WASHINGTON — National security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned following reports he misled Vice-President Mike Pence about contacts with a Russian diplomat, up-ending President Donald Trump’s White House team less than a month after his inauguration.

In a resignation letter, Flynn said he gave 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.

Such conversations would breach diplomatic protocol and possibly violate the Logan Act, a law aimed at keeping private citizens from conducting U.S. diplomacy. The Justice Department also had warned the White House late last month that Flynn could be in a compromised position because of contradictions between his public depictions of the calls and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on routine recordings of communications with foreign officials who are in the U.S.

Kellyanne Conway, a close aide to Trump, had said Monday that Flynn continued to have the “full confidence” of the president. On Tuesday, she said in televised interviews that Trump had supported Flynn out of loyalty but that the situation reached a “fever pitch” and had become “unsustainable.”

“By night’s end, Mike Flynn had decided it was best to resign. He knew he’d become a lightning rod, and he made that decision,” Conway told NBC’s “Today” show.

When asked why the White House didn’t move sooner after being warned by the Justice Department that Flynn was at risk of blackmail, Conway was vague: “As time wore on, obviously the situation became unsustainable,” she repeated.

She added: “We’re moving on.”

Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as the acting national security adviser. Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump during the campaign. Trump is also considering former CIA Director David Petraeus and Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a U.S. Navy SEAL, for the post, according to a senior administration official.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition.

An administration official and two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed the Justice Department warnings on 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.

The Washington Post was the first to report the communication between former acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, and the Trump White House. The Post also first reported last week that Flynn had indeed spoken about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

Trump never voiced public support for Flynn after that initial report but continued to keep his national security adviser close.

The White House officials sent contradictory messages, meantime, about Flynn’s job status. While Conway was remarking that Trump had “full confidence” in the retired general, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president was “evaluating the situation” and consulting with Pence about his conversations with the national security adviser.

Asked whether the president had been aware that Flynn might have planned to discuss sanctions with the Russian envoy, Spicer said, “No, absolutely not.”

The Kremlin had confirmed that Flynn was in contact with Kislyak but denied that they talked about lifting sanctions. On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers mounted a fierce defence of Flynn.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is “not just paranoia but something even worse.” Kosachev also expressed frustration at the Trump administration:

“Either Trump hasn’t found the necessary independence and he’s been driven into a corner… or russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom,” he said.

Kosachev’s counterpart at the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, Alexei Pushkov, tweeted shortly after the announcement that “it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia.”

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Flynn’s resignation “does not end questions over his contacts with the Russians.” He said the White House has yet to be forthcoming about whether Flynn was acting at the behest of the president or others.

___

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey and Matthew Daly in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.

___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Eric Tucker at http://twitter.com./etuckerAP

Julie Pace, Eric Tucker And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Kelowna airport advises travellers to plan ahead this holiday season

YLW is expecting more than 100,000 passengers to move through the terminal over next three weeks

SunRype products included in Tim Hortons meal program

The Okanagan fruit and juice producer provides FunBites in the Timmies Minis packs

West Kelowna girl takes aim at Type 1 diabetes

Arielle Findlater took a trip to Parliament to lobby for Type 1 diabetes

Lawrence Nagy ready for new role as Sun GM

The Sun legend aims to bring the basics back to football club

Your morning news in 90: Dec. 12, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Kelowna takes junior boys tourney

The out-of-town teams in the eight-team Fulton Maroons Classic 2018 met in… Continue reading

Coquihalla closed northbound

Highway 5 is set to reopen after 1 p.m.

Stop ‘renovictions,’ B.C. housing task force says

MLAs call for end to strata bans on renting vacant suites

Enderby florist pick of B.C.’s crop

Crocus Floral Design earns wedding award for second year in a row, also several Okanagan finalists

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Girl, 6, lured from elementary school, sexually assaulted: Vancouver police

Police are seeking dashcam footage from nearby Sexsmith Elementary School in South Vancouver

B.C. Liberals call for outside audit of Speaker’s office, NDP refuses

Auditor General implicated in Darryl Plecas accusations of impropriety

Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

The victims are also seeking $150,000 each in punitive damages

Most Read