President Donald Trump demanded National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation after losing trust in Flynn, not because the retired Army general broke any laws in discussing Obama administration sanctions against Russia with a rep of that country during the transition period, and then lying about it. This from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at today’s press briefing.
Spicer dismissed questions as to whether there will be further investigation into Flynn’s actions before and during his brief 24 days in office. But ,Spicer told reporters who have been covering the story, Trump will launch an investigation to unearth their White House sources on Flynn’s activities. Trump is going to “take steps” to make sure the leaks to them stop, Spicer informed them, explaining, “The president clearly is upset about this, and understands the threat they pose to our national security.”
Asked for details, Spicer compared the situation to a counterterrorism campaign. He reminded the room full of reporters that President Trump has said, when asked how he plans to deal with other threats to national security, that he does not think it is smart to “telegraph to people how you’re going to handle it.”
Spicer also happily answered the pressing question being buzzed about on the TV news circuit before the briefing: What did Trump know, and when did he know it?
Spicer acknowledged Trump has known since January 26 that Flynn did not tell Vice President Mike Pence the truth when he initially denied he had talked about the sanctions with the Russian Ambassador to the United States while Obama still was in office. That’s the date on which the Justice Department told the White House it believed Flynn did have communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about the sanctions and now could be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.
Spicer insisted it took until late yesterday for Trump to seek Flynn’s resignation while he went through a “deliberative process” — first to determine whether there was a “legal issue, which the White House counsel concluded there was not. This was a matter of trust,” Spicer insisted of Trump’s decision to pull Flynn.
Asked why Flynn’s resignation came just hours after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted to the press that he continued to have the full confidence of the President, Spicer explained that Trump is an exec who takes his time but, once moves swiftly once he’s made a decision. Flynn’s resignation came last night, shortly after WaPo published its report that the Justice Department had told the White House a month ago it believed Flynn had lied to Pence about his communication with the ambassador and left himself open to possible blackmail.
And yet, when asked if Trump had instructed Flynn to talk about Obama’s sanctions with the ambassador, Spicer answered quickly, “Absolutely not” — while also insisting Flynn was just doing his job when he did. Flynn’s fault was in failing to properly inform POTUS and Veep, he said.
Another reporter asked, “Does the President believe anything that he discussed with Gen. Flynn during the transition might have been construed by the general as a request or an encouragement to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador?” Spicer shot back: “As I made clear, there is nothing the general did that was a violation of any sort. He was well within his duties to discuss issues of common concern between the two countries. … The President was glad he was out there preparing for his job, going back and forth with his counterparts throughout the world. … That was never of a concern to the President. The issue was, plain and simple, a matter of trust. And, once that occurred, it was over.”