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Flynn resigns amid controversy over Russia contacts 

Cheryl Chumley

It’s barely a month into President Donald Trump’s administration, and already the White House is rocking with breaking news of a shake-up that has led to the resignation of Michael Flynn from his national security adviser spot.

Flynn’s abrupt departure from the White House came after reports he misled administration officials about the content and frequency of his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States – a political misstep that critics said left him vulnerable to blackmail.

Flynn, in a letter dated Feb. 13, expressed remorse. The full text of his letter:

“In the course of my duties as the incoming National Security Advisor, I held numerous phone calls with foreign counterparts, ministers and ambassadors,” Flynn wrote. “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.

 “As I step away once again from serving my nation in this current capacity, I wish to thank President Trump for his personal loyalty, the friendship of those who I worked with throughout the hard fought campaign, the challenging period of transition, and during the early days of his presidency.

“I know with the strong leadership of President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the superb team they are assembling, this team will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in U.S. history, and I firmly believe the American people will be well served as they all work together to help Make America Great Again.”

Flynn’s situation in the White House, and Trump’s plans for his future, had been described right up until the final moments before his resignation as “fluid,” leading some to believe he might actually keep his role. Top White House aides, however, had been urging Trump in recent hours to get rid of Flynn, seeing him as a political liability and untrustworthy figure who would become an easy target for Democrats to exploit.

The conflicting messages came from the highest positions of Trump’s team.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s counselor, tried to tamp down concerns about Flynn’s fate in the lead-up to his resignation, telling national television audiences the general “does enjoy the full confidence of the president.”

But Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, seemed to shortly after suggest otherwise.

“The president is evaluating the situation,” Spicer said, within hours of Conway’s public remarks.

It’s not yet clear who might replace Flynn. Trump has yet to respond publicly to the resignation.

The most damaging aspect of the Flynn matter seemed to have come from reports of the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, informing the Trump White House in late January of her belief Flynn had misled the administration about his talks with Russia’s ambassador. Specifically, Yates expressed concerns that Flynn told Mike Pence and others in the White House he had not spoken of the sanctions put in place under Barack Obama’s administration against Russia over the election hacking scandal.