Retired United States Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn resigned his national security adviser post Monday night, and according to press secretary Sean Spicer, it was President Donald Trump himself who personally asked Flynn to step down, taking “immediate, decisive action.”
Despite his comments, contradicting reports coming from administration officials paint a different picture, claiming instead that Flynn had made his own decision to resign.
Furthermore, Spicer’s own comments suggest Trump acted promptly after making the discovery. Yet he later admitted that, in late January, Trump learned about Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials weeks in advance. He also said Trump and his staff had been discussing the matter daily for weeks but had avoided taking any steps to discipline Flynn until Monday.
In addition, Spicer said Trump had "no problem" talking to Russian officials, according to The Huffington Post.
Instead, what seemed to disturb the president was the fact the former adviser had told Vice President Mike Pence that sanctions against the Russians were never discussed. Allowing Pence to go on television to repeat what Flynn had told him.
To some, Flynn’s actions appear to violate the Logan Act, a federal law signed in 1799 by President John Adams that targets unauthorized citizens who negotiate with foreign governments under dispute with the United States. If Flynn is indicted under this rule, he would be the second in history.
Prior to being fired for failing to follow Trump’s orders on immigration halts from seven predominantly-Muslim countries, former Attorney General Sally Yates said Flynn was a liability. At the time, she claimed he was vulnerable to blackmail coming from Russian officials. Her concerns were eventually ignored by the Trump administration.
Spicer has yet to announce whether Flynn’s calls regarding sanctions will be declassified anytime in the future. Until then, Republicans in Congress appear to be gearing up to investigate the incident, possibly preparing to bring the former adviser back for a broader investigation into whether Russia meddled with the 2016 elections.
Perhaps what’s more troubling about this story isn’t that Flynn, along with the administration, lied about the adviser’s conversations with foreign officials but that the media seems to be much more worried about this exchange than Flynn’s rabid comments regarding Iran — a nation that represents no threat to the United States.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Mike Segar