Will the Oroville Dam fail?

Harsh reaction from Moscow - Flynn's resignation turns into a bigger affair for the US government

Following the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn, the White House is increasingly finding it difficult to explain.

According to the US administration, US President Donald Trump was informed for more than two weeks that Flynn had spoken to Russia's ambassador in Washington about US sanctions against Moscow during the reign of President Barack Obama. Trump had this examined legally, said his spokesman Sean Spicer. However, the White House did not assess the process as a legal problem; Trump sees it as a question of trust.

Trump dismissed Flynn himself, said Trump. This contradicts information from the White House the previous day, including from adviser Kellyanne Conway, according to which Flynn voluntarily requested his resignation. It was even said that Trump wanted to hold Flynn.

The process was examined and evaluated daily for weeks, Spicer said on Tuesday. Trust in Flynn has decreased to the point where Trump had to make a change. "The president must have absolute confidence in this person," said Trump. The president was deeply concerned that Vice President Mike Pence was misled, Spicer said.

Flynn's provisional successor is 72-year-old Keith Kellogg, another retired general.

In Moscow, politicians viewed the resignation as a bad sign for the future of US-Russian relations. "The hawks in Washington see the willingness to enter into dialogue with the Russians as a thought crime," wrote the chairman of the Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, Konstantin Kosachev, on Facebook.

The White House is threatened with pressure and a broad reappraisal from Congress. A number of Republican MPs, Senators and MPs, want to investigate the matter and have Flynn testify.

Flynn had telephoned Russia's ambassador Sergei Kisljak at the end of December, before he assumed any official office, around the time Obama was imposing new sanctions on Russia. The White House confirmed these contacts. Spicer and Pence said, however, that the talks were not about the sanctions. This later turned out to be wrong, as the Washington Post reported, citing former and current government officials.

Flynn justified his resignation: "Unfortunately, because of the high speed of events, I inadvertently informed the Vice-President-elect and others with incomplete information about my phone calls with the Russian ambassador."

American citizens are prohibited from negotiating with other states without legitimation.

As the "Washington Post" wrote, the then acting Justice Minister Sally Yates had already warned the White House at the end of January that Flynn had lied about his communication with Kisljak and thus made himself vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.

Without referring directly to Flynn, Trump tweeted on Tuesday: "The real story is, why are there so many illegal leaks in Washington?" He wonders if this will continue when he negotiates North Korea and other things. Spicer said the president will see to it that these leaks are closed.

The powerful House of Representatives spokesman Paul Ryan told the media on Tuesday that Trump was right to persuade Flynn to resign.

Flynn's acting successor, Keith Kellogg (72) is a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. Kellogg was already on Trump's transition team. In addition to Kellogg, the former general and head of the CIA secret service, David Petraeus, was listed as a candidate for permanent successor in the US media. In addition, the former Vice Admiral Robert Harward is considered a successor.

Flynn has to vacate a high post early for the second time. In 2014, the 58-year-old's time as head of the US military intelligence service DIA ended after two years in office. At the time, he was accused of having massive leadership problems; above all, he seemed to have a different view of Islamist terrorism than the Obama administration.

During the election campaign, Flynn became one of Trump's most loyal minds. However, his connections to Russia were already causing irritation back then. At the end of 2015 he took part in an anniversary celebration of the state broadcaster RT (Russia Today) and sat next to Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin.

dpa