Donald Trump’s rollercoaster presidency ride continues with one more scandal and a new one that involves Russia. National security adviser Michael T. Flynn tendered his resignation on Monday night, acknowledging that he misrepresented the truth when explaining his phone conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. The irony here could not be more apparent. A top adviser resigns amid concerns that he’s been lying to the Trump administration, which is already having to defend itself for its alternative facts and the president’s own falsehoods, or things he believes very firmly.
The New York Times explains that Flynn said he had given “incomplete information” about a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December concerning American sanctions against Russia.
Trump’s often mocked for his apparently friendly stance towards Russia. In fact, Trump had to deal with a massive Russia-related scandal that erupted before his inauguration when an intelligence report published by the media had suggested that Putin might have information that could be used to blackmail America’s new president.
Flynn denied he had any meaningful conversations with Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials. Pence further repeated that claim on TV in interviews, The Times says.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Flynn lied about the call, and said it was worried that the national security adviser could be vulnerable to blackmail.
The DoJ feared that the Russians, knowing what had been discussed during the call, might try to convince Flynn to do certain things for them not to expose the lie. Flynn talking to Russia about sanctions before Trump took office was seen as a breach of protocol and could explain why he tried to cover his tracks by lying.
However, a transcript of the call exists, proving that Flynn and the ambassador did touch on the fresh sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The discussion was ambiguous enough for Trump to justify keeping Flynn, officials familiar with the call have said. But Trump was worried about the media storm that would follow and the damage to his image. SNL will probably put this new scandal to good use in the very near future.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, asked for Flynn’s resignation since Friday, the report notes. However, Trump only decided on the matter on Monday.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. will act as the national security adviser until Trump appoints a permanent replacement for Flynn.
Flynn full’s resignation letter is available over at The Times