WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) —National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned late Monday night after reports that he misled Trump administration officials about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Flynn’s resignation came less than a month into the Trump administration. It marks an extraordinary early shakeup in President Donald Trump’s senior team of advisers, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Flynn originally told officials he did not discuss U.S. sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before President Trump took office, but U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted those calls.
Flynn submitted the following letter, saying he had “inadvertently” omitted information about his calls with the Russian ambassador:
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.
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.
Trump has named retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg as acting National Security Adviser following Flynn’s departure. Kellogg served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 2003, and served two tours during the Vietnam War. He also served as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division from 1997 to 1998, and was director of the Command, Control, Communications, and Computers Directorate under the Joint Chiefs of Staff before his retirement.
Before the resignation, Vice President Mike Pence had been said to be upset that Flynn misled him.
“I think General Flynn, we need to know exactly what conversations he had with the Russians during the transition period,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland).
Sen. Cardin was not the only Democrat pressing the issue.
“His security clearance ought to be withdrawn until that independent investigation is completed, and if he has violated any law or ethical precept he ought to be fired,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Flynn before his resignation, but after CBS News reported that he was on thin ice.
“General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president,” she said.
An hour after Conway’s remarks, Press Secretary Sean Spicer Walked that back saying, “President Trump is evaluating the situation.”
Earlier Monday, President Trump welcomed Prime Minister Trudeau to the White House and defended recent immigration raids across the U.S.
The agency known as ICE busted almost 700 foreign nationals nationwide including 38 in and around New York with criminal records including sex assault and weapons offenses.
“We are getting them out. That’s what I said I would do,” Trump said.
ICE said the roundups are carefully targeted, and during the Obama years more than 10,000 were arrested in similar operations.
Prime Minister Trudeau declined to comment on the president’s tactics.
“The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down another country on how they chose to govern themselves,” he said.
The neighboring leaders were taking up the thorny subject of trade with Trudeau eager to build a relationship with the new U.S. president.
At a joint press conference after a series of meetings, the two emphasized their shared goals. Trump pledged to work with Canada “in pursuit of our many shared interests.” Trudeau spoke of a special bond and the “deep abiding respect” between the two countries, though he also said that “relationships between neighbors are pretty complex.”
Speaking at a news conference Monday, the two leaders also announced the creation of the United States-Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders – Female Entrepreneurs, a partnership between the two nations focused on fostering job opportunities for women.
“I am focused and you are focused on the important role women play in our economies,” Trump said to Trudeau in a news conference Monday. Trump said it was important to ensure the economy is a place where “women can work and thrive.” Trudeau stressed that women have had to overcome barriers to succeed in business.
The neighboring leaders were taking up the subject in their first face-to-face meeting. At a round table discussion about women Monday morning, Trump said the “system is not working so well for entrepreneurs” — particularly for women.
Trudeau added that having “women in business is a powerful leverage for success.”
Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, attended the meeting and helped recruit participants and set the agenda.
At a press conference following the meeting, Trump said America “is deeply fortunate to have a neighbor like Canada.”
Trump said the two countries share much more than a border, including shared values and defense interests. He also commended Canada’s contribution to the effort to defeat the Islamic State group.
Trump said both countries are stronger when they work together and is pledging to work with Trudeau “in pursuit of our many shared interests.”
Trudeau, age 45, and Trump, age 70, have vastly different outlooks of the world.
Trudeau is a liberal who champions free trade and has welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees. He calls himself a feminist and his Cabinet is 50 percent women. Trump has few women in his Cabinet. He has taken a protectionist stance on trade and wants to crack down on the inflow of migrants and refugees.
“We continue to pursue our policies of openness toward immigrants and refugees without compromising security,” Trudeau said. “And part of the reason we have been successful in doing that over the past year — welcoming close to 40,000 Syrian refugees — is because we have been coordinating with our allies, the United States and around the world, to demonstrate that security comes very seriously to us and that’s something we continue to deal with.”
Relations with the U.S. are crucial as more than 75 percent of Canada’s exports go to the U.S., while 18 percent of U.S. exports go to Canada. There are fears among Canadians that they could be hurt as Trump targets Mexico in a re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trudeau’s close cooperation with Trump and the first daughter on women in business could ease some worries among Canadians that the U.S. president will enact protectionist measures that could hurt the Canadian economy. It could also alleviate some fears that Trump will be as combative with Trudeau as he has been with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
A Canadian official said Trudeau’s administration had suggested the task force, because the prime minister considers the issue of working women an important part of his agenda and economic growth plan.
“It’s a smart thing if Canada proposed this,” said Nelson Wiseman, a professor at the University of Toronto. “It takes attention off of NAFTA. And from Trump’s point of view, it contributes to softening Trump’s image, and he’s got a problem with women.”
Trudeau had prepared for the Trump meeting for months. He also met with legislative leaders on Capitol Hill.
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