14 Feb 2017

Michael Flynn Resigns after Russian Connections

Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, resigned on Monday night, after he had given “incomplete information” about a telephone call he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States in December about American sanctions against Russia. Flynn had denied that he had any conversations with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, and Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials believed him.

On Monday, however, a former administration official said that the Justice Department had warned the White House that Flynn hasn’t been honest regarding his contact with the Russian ambassador. The Justice Department then was worried about Flynn’s possibly compromised position and the possibility of being blackmailed by Moscow.

In his resignation letter, Flynn admitted he had conversations with foreign officials during the transition: “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,” he wrote. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology.”

Flynn will be replaced with Vietnam Veteran and retired Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. of the Army.

The Army has been investigating whether Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, received money from the Russian government when he visited Moscow in 2015. If he was paid, this is a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits former military officers from receiving money from a foreign government without Congress’ consent. Flynn hadn’t filed any documentation for the trip.

Two Democratic lawmakers, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, demanded a briefing by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. about whether Flynn was a blackmail risk. They said: “We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security.”

Another mistake from the Flynn family, was that Flynn’s son, had posted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton on social media, and was given a security clearance by the transition team. His father had told Mike Pence and his team that he had not.

Back in 2015 when he visited Moscow, Flynn was paid to attend the  banquet celebrating the television network, Russia Today, which is controlled by the Kremlin. He had sat next to Mr. Putin.

But many senior agency officials, when they saw footage of him at the banquet were surprised because they hadn’t been briefed properly about the nature of Flynn’s trip.

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