Loeb / AFP | National Security Advisor
Michael Flynn at the White House in
Washington, DC, February 13, 2017.
President Donald Trump is evaluating U.S.
national security adviser Michael Flynn over
his Russian contacts, Trump's spokesman said
on Monday, pointedly declining to make a
public show of support for his embattled
A statement from White House press
secretary Sean Spicer, read to reporters
crowded around his office, left Flynn's
status in doubt, an hour after Trump aide
Kellyanne Conway said the president had full
confidence in Flynn.
Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence
he had not discussed U.S. sanctions against
Russia with Russian officials in the weeks
before Trump took office Jan. 20, prompting
Pence to defend him in subsequent television
In recent days Flynn has acknowledged he
might have discussed sanctions with the
Russians but could not remember with 100
percent certainty, which officials said had
upset Pence, who felt he had been misled.
Officials said Flynn has apologized to
Pence twice, including in person on Friday.
"The president is evaluating the
situation. He is speaking to ... Vice
President Pence relative to the conversation
the vice president had with General Flynn
and also speaking to various other people
about what he considers the single most
important subject there is, our national
security," Spicer said.
Flynn was an early supporter of Trump and
shares his interest in shaking up the
establishment in Washington.
The White House statement, arranged
during a meeting between Trump, White House
chief of staff Reince Priebus and Spicer,
suggested that the review into Flynn's
activities stretched beyond the
conversations he had with Russian officials.
Some news reports have focused on
accusations that there has been dysfunction
in the operation of the National Security
Council with Flynn at the helm.
An hour before Spicer read his statement,
Conway, one of Trump's closest aides, had
told reporters that Flynn had the full
confidence of the president.
It was notable, however, that Trump did
not use the opportunity of a joint news
conference with visiting Canadian Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to make a
public show of support for Flynn.
Top White House officials have been
reviewing Flynn's contacts with the Russians
and whether he discussed the possibility of
lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia once Trump
That would potentially be in violation of
a law banning private citizens from engaging
in foreign policy, known as the Logan Act.
Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer
told reporters he wanted an independent
investigation of Flynn's discussions with
"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," Schumer said.
There was no indication from transcripts
of Flynn's conversations that he had
promised to lift the sanctions but rather
that he made more general comments about
hoping for better U.S.-Russian relations
with Trump, a U.S. official said.
Flynn was going about his business as
normal despite the cloud hanging over him,
participating in national security meetings.
He was at Trump's side at the president's
Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida on Saturday
when word reached the presidential entourage
that North Korea had launched a ballistic
missile at the same time Trump was hosting
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
While Trump left Flynn's status pending,
he appeared to close the door on another
source of speculation, as to whether Priebus
might be replaced.
Appearing briefly before reporters in the
West Wing of the White House, Trump said
Priebus was doing a "great job."