National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has officially resigned just three weeks into President Donald Trump's administration amid controversy over his ties with Russia.
Flynn stepped down on Feb. 13, CNN reported. The announcement came shortly after sources close to the government revealed that the Justice Department warned the Trump administration three weeks earlier that Flynn's links to Kremlin could leave him vulnerable to blackmail.
The military veteran had made several phone calls to the Russian Ambassador to the United States before Trump took office. He later hinted that he may have violated diplomatic protocol by discussing the rollback of sanctions against Russia, the Daily Mail reported.
Flynn initially denied discussing sanctions in calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but intelligence intercepts of the phone calls indicate that they did talk about sanctions in ways former acting attorney general Sally Yates deemed "highly significant" and "potentially illegal," The Washington Post reported.
Flynn wrote in his resignation letter:
In the course of my duties as the incoming National Security Advisor, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers, and ambassadors. These calls were to facilitate a smooth transition and begin to build the necessary relationships between the President, his advisors and foreign leaders. Such calls are standard practice in any transition of this magnitude.
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. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.
Throughout my over thirty three years of honorable military service, and my tenure as the National Security Advisor, I have always performed my duties with the utmost of integrity and honesty to those I have served, to include the President of the United States.
I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way.
I am also extremely honored to have served President Trump, who in just three weeks, has reoriented American foreign policy in fundamental ways to restore America's leadership position in the world....
Retired general Keith Kellogg is now acting National Security Adviser until the Trump administration names an official replacement. Former CIA Director David Petraeus and U.S. Navy Admiral Michelle Howard are among the names being considered, according to reports.
"We were shocked and dismayed to learn this evening of reports that three weeks ago, U.S. law enforcement officials warned the White House Counsel that General Flynn had provided false information to the public about his communications with the Russian government," John Conyers Jr. and Elijah Cummings, members of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, said in a statement obtained by The Hill. "The reality is General Flynn was unfit to be the National Security Advisor, and should have been dismissed three weeks ago.
"We need to know who else within the White House is a current and ongoing risk to our national security."