Illegal leaks behind NSA's resignation: Trump

Illegal leaks behind NSA's resignation: Trump

US President Donald Trump today said the real story behind the National Security Advisor's resignation is illegal leaks, indicating that it was not the top official misleading him as being reported in the media.

"The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea etc?" Trump told his more than 24.8 million followers on Twitter.

His tweet came a day after Gen (rtd) Michael Flynn resigned as the National Security Advisor amidst reports that he mislead the President and Vice President Mike Pence about his conversation with the Russian Ambassador on sanctions.

Flynn resigned after he apologised to Trump and Pence for not providing them all the information about his call with the Russian Ambassador to the US before Trump's inauguration.

Trump has named Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. (Ret) as Acting National Security Advisor.

Top Republican Senator John McCain said that Flynn's resignation is a troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national security apparatus.

"As our nation confronts the most complex and diverse array of global challenges since the end of World War II, it is imperative that the President select a new National Security Advisor who is empowered by clear lines of authority and responsibility and possesses the skills and experience necessary to organize the national security system across our government," he said.

McCain said Flynn's resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration's intentions toward Vladimir Putin's Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the US and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections.

"American policy toward Russia must be made clear and unequivocal: we will honor our commitments to our NATO allies, we will maintain and enhance our deterrent posture in Europe, we will hold Russian violators of human rights accountable for their actions, and we will maintain sanctions on Russia so long as it continues to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," McCain said.

House Democratic Whip Steny H Hoyer demanded that Congress and the American people must learn the full extent of what Trump knew about Flynn's communications with Russian leaders, and when they knew it.

"We also need to know if promises were made by the Trump campaign and Trump transition team to the Russians regarding sanctions – and what the Trump Administration may be doing to follow through," he said.

Top Democratic leaders in the House led by Nancy Pelosi have called for the FBI to accelerate their investigation into the extent of the ties between Trump and Russia.
They have also called for passage of legislation to create an outside, independent commission to investigate.

"The truth and consequences of the Russia connection: the American people deserve to know the full extent of Russia's financial, personal and political grip on President Trump and what that means for our national security," Pelosi said.

"Flynn's resignation is a reflection of the poor judgment of President Trump and demands answers to the grave questions over the President’s involvement. By what authority did Flynn act and to whom did he report?" she asked.

"The FBI must accelerate its investigation of the Russian connection with the Trump Administration, and Congress must call for a bipartisan, independent, outside commission to fully investigate Russia's influence on the Administration and the election," Pelosi said.

Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the American people deserve to know at whose direction Flynn was acting when he made these calls, and why the White House waited until these reports were public to take action.

"These developments underscore how many questions still remain unanswered to the American people more than three months after Election Day, including who was aware of what, and when," he said.

"This reinforces both the urgency and the significance of the Senate Intelligence Committee's bipartisan investigation into Russian interference, which will include a thorough examination of contacts between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, as well as interviews with current and former government officials," Warner said.

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