President Donald Trump and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pointed to leaks to the press as the real issue behind Michael Flynn's resignation as Trump's national security adviser on Feb. 13.
Trump tweeted on Feb. 14: "The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?"
The controversy swirling around Flynn involves his conversations with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions against Russia (by the Obama administration) before Trump was sworn in as president.
The Washington Post reported on Feb. 13 that Trump and senior White House officials were aware of Flynn's conversations with the ambassador as far back as late January.
Unidentified sources leaked to the newspaper that then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates broke the news to the Trump White House.
However, Trump said as recently as Feb. 10 that he was not aware of reports that Flynn might have spoken to the ambassador.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he would "look into that," reported The Washington Post.
While Trump condemned the leaks to the press on Feb. 14, he praised WikiLeaks in October 2016 for leaking emails from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign, noted The Hill. Trump quoted from the leaked content at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and exclaimed, "I love WikiLeaks."
"Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy asked Conway on Feb. 14 about the leaks:
There are a number of major U.S. papers that apparently got the leaks from the intel community that said, "Hey look, we’ve got the transcripts of what Mr. Flynn said on the phone to the Russian ambassador and it looks kind of shady." Just the fact that there are these leaks inside the permanent government is troubling.
Conway agreed with Doocy:
Well, you may be the only outlet talking about that this morning. So thank you for shining a light there. I'll let the public make their own decision based on what you just said. Leaks are always disturbing, I think the president of the United States has made that very clear. And leaks when it has to do with security and intelligence information are that much more concerning, just hypothetically in the [unintelligible].
Conway insisted there was no specific incident or specific contact that led to Flynn's resignation.
Flynn resigned only hours after The Washington Post broke its story on the Trump White House knowing about his conversations in late January.