The White House has just announced that President Trump’s national security adviser has resigned over his contacts with Russia. The main role of the national security adviser, who is appointed by the president, is to serve as his chief adviser on international affairs and defence. According to recent reports, Michael Flynn allegedly discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office, and misled officials about this conversation.
The US media had previously claimed that Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, and that the Justice Department had warned the White House about the contacts late last month. It is actually illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy, and reports have claimed that the calls occurred last last year before Flynn was appointed. A number of senior Democrats had then called for Flynn to be fired. His letter of resignation said that he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”
Flynn was previously the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, before being fired by Barack Obama. He was always a supporter of Trump during the campaign, and encouraged tougher policies on Iran. Together with this he also tried to gain a softer policy on Russia, and questions had previously been raised about his closeness to Moscow, according to the latest reports.
Flynn initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, but nevertheless a White House statement has said that Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg had been appointed as interim replacement for the post. Following his denial, details of his phone call emerged in the US media on Monday, together with reports that the justice department had warned the White House about misleading senior officials, and also being vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
Konstantin Kosachev, a Russian MP, suggested that President Trump may have been “backed into a corner over Mr Flynn’s resignation or his administration may have been “infected” by anti-Russian sentiment.” Despite Flynn being elected as Trump’s national security adviser by the President himself, there have reportedly been concerns about Flynn’s questionable contacts with Russia both before and after the election back in November.
Republican Senator, Susan Collins of Maine has claimed that it would be “troubling” if Flynn had been negotiating with a foreign government just before he had taken office. Since the phone calls have come to light, several House Democrats have requested Jason Chaffetz, the Oversight Committee Chairman, to launch an investigation into Flynn’s ties to Russia.