US President Donald Trump attacked “illegal leaks” in the wake of the departure of national security advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn was accused of maintaining what have been described as improper contacts with the Russian government.
On Tuesday, Trump emphasised the “illegal leaks coming out of Washington” were the “real story” after Flynn resigned from his role. “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington?” Trump posted on social media. “Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea etc.?”
Flynn’s departure comes after he acknowledged he had misled the government over his discussions with Russia concerning US sanctions against Moscow. According to reports, the then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates issued a warning to the White House that Flynn was providing incorrect information concerning his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. This, Yates added, could put Flynn in a position of vulnerability.
Trump asked for an investigation into the leaks in West Wing. This came after his phone conversations with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto became public. “The president takes these leaks very seriously,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said, speaking with FOX News (via Reuters).
Trump said over the weekend the issue did worry him. However, he did not make it clear whether he would ask Flynn to resign.
Concerning Flynn, Spicer said Trump had been assessing the national security advisor’s case. Spicer said the case, which had been reviewed by the White House legal counsel, was “not as a legal issue but a trust issue.” The revelation about Flynn’s discussion of sanctions with Russia came in a report from the Washington Post.
Flynn’s resignation came on Tuesday. In his resignation letter, he admitted to having several calls with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition. He added he provided "incomplete information" about those discussions to Pence.
Republican Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said leaking of the information pertaining to Flynn’s phone conversation with the Russian ambassador is problematic. “If, in fact, the press reports are right, someone made the decision to deliberately listen to General Flynn’s phone calls and that is, I think, unprecedented, unwarranted and flat-out wrong,” he said.
House Democrats urged Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to carry out an investigation into the matter. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi had called for Flynn’s resignation, adding he "cannot be trusted not to put Putin before America."
Meanwhile, Republican Senator Susan Collins highlighted that it would be “troubling” if Pence was discussing US sanctions with a foreign office before taking office.