Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, has resigned from his post after less than one month in office following reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.
The resignation capped a day of mixed messages from the White House. Kellyanne Conway, senior counsellor to the president, had earlier said Mr Trump had “full confidence” in Mr Flynn, before it emerged the President was “evaluating” the adviser’s position. It comes as the White House struggles to quell dissent and mistrust within the National Security Council, where many civil servants feel their advice is being ignored – and have even taken to calling the new administration “the regime”.
In his resignation letter, Mr 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. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Mr Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Mr Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice-President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Mr Flynn wrote in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologised to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”
Mr Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as the acting national security adviser. Mr Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump on national security issues during the campaign.
Mr Flynn was spotted near the Oval Office just after 10 pm on Monday. Amid the uncertainty over Mr Flynn’s future, several of the president’s top advisers, including chief of staff Reince Priebus and counsel Don McGahn, ducked in and out of late-night meetings in the West Wing.
Sean Spicer, the president’s press secretary, had said earlier that Mr Trump and Mr Pence had already been discussing Mr Flynn’s future. Other White House sources claimed that “the knives were out” for the retired general.
Mr Flynn, who was previously forced to resign as the head of Defence Intelligence Agency, stands accused of discussing the lifting of sanctions on Moscow with the Russian ambassador in Washington before Mr Trump had taken office, an act which may be illegal.