President Donald Trump knew for "weeks" before taking action that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking officials about the extent of his communication with Russia, the White House said on Feb. 14.
On Jan. 26, White House counsel Don McGahn briefed Trump and a small group of aides on news that Flynn had spoken to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about imposing sanctions on the country, despite his insistence they had not talked about sanctions, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said during a Feb. 14 press conference, according to The Washington Post.
"We've been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks, trying to ascertain the truth," Spicer told the media.
Conflicting statements made it unclear whether Trump asked Flynn to resign or whether Flynn did so on his own accord after news broke that he misled Pence and others.
"The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of a series of other issues is what led the president to ask for General Flynn's resignation," Spicer told reporters.
Before the press conference, senior officials, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, told the media that it went differently.
"The president is very loyal," Conway said on the "Today" show. "He's a very loyal person. And by nighttime, Mike Flynn had decided it was best to resign. He knew he became a lightning rod, and he made that decision."
Flynn's resignation letter does not shed any light on the matter, only stating that he accidentally withheld information and has "sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President," who have "accepted" it, according to NBC News.
As recently as Feb. 10, Washington Post journalists asked Trump whether he was familiar with their report that Flynn had not been honest about his communication with the Russian ambassador.
"I don't know about that," the president answered at the time. "I haven't seen it. What report is that? I haven't seen that. I'll look into that."
According to Spicer, Trump was specifically referring to the newspaper report, not the larger issue pertaining to Flynn.