General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s national security advisor, didn’t have a great weekend in Washington. Following reports of a federal investigation into the retired United States Army officer’s alleged ties to the Kremlin, new evidence suggests Flynn may have discussed outgoing President Barack Obama’s last-minute sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. What’s more, Flynn and Kislyak’s calls to one another supposedly took place before the former assumed his current office — despite the Trump advisor’s initial insistence they never took place.
As a result, Flynn may be in danger of losing his new job. An unnamed Trump administration official told the Wall Street Journal as much, claiming the general had apologized to the president, Vice President Mike Pence, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, and pretty much every other major figure in the White House. Even so, officials are apparently mulling over whether or not to keep Flynn on or fire him, especially due to all the negative publicity generated by the matter.
The same official said Trump described the situation as “unwelcome,” but hopes to “keep moving forward” with Flynn. Bannon reportedly had dinner with the national security advisor and decided to lend his weight to keeping him on. Though as WSJ‘s source noted, Bannon is “ready” to fire Flynn if necessary. Yet subsequent reports with additional, similarly anonymous sources from within the White House contest that Flynn’s stature isn’t as strong as Trump and Bannon’s comments suggest.
Per a source who spoke with the Washington Post, the “knives are out” for the embattled general:
Privately, some administration officials said that Flynn’s position has weakened and support for him has eroded largely because of a belief that he was disingenuous about Russia and therefore could not be fully trusted going forward.
“The knives are out for Flynn,” said one administration official who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly.
CNN reported on the matter after consultation with the same, or a similar, source, who mentioned the “knives” quip and added, “There’s a lot of unhappiness about this.” Especially since the evidence of Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak, and his subsequent denials they ever took place, deceived senior White House staffers who went to bat for him on the Sunday talk show circuit:
While Flynn may have no plans to leave the White House, many inside the Trump administration are concerned with the fact that the national security adviser could have misled senior members of the White House, including Vice President Mike Pence, who went on national television and denied that Flynn spoke about sanctions.
However, Trump Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller resisted discussing Flynn during his Sunday appearance. Perhaps he was too busy reading a prompter to pick up a new subject.