National security adviser Michael Flynn has resigned after reports he misled senior White House officials about his conversations with Russia.
President Trump has named retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as acting national security adviser. Kellogg previously served as Flynn’s chief of staff on the National Security Council.
The embattled Flynn blamed his resignation late Monday on the “fast pace of events” that led him to “inadvertently” give Vice President Pence and others “incomplete information” about his phone conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
“I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn wrote in his resignation letter.
Flynn’s sudden exit comes just 24 days into Trump’s presidency and represents a dramatic overhaul of his team of senior aides that has been consumed by controversy.
Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was a trusted adviser to Trump throughout the 2016 campaign but was seen as a controversial figure by many inside and outside the White House.
He noted his friendship with the president in his resignation letter, thanking him for “his personal loyalty” and adding “this team will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in U.S. history.”
Flynn's future at the White House had been the topic of intense speculation since Friday, after reports first emerged that he backtracked on his denial that he talked about sanctions against Russia for its election-related hacking with the country's top envoy in the U.S.
Those reports, along with his longstanding ties to Russia, sparked concerns among U.S. officials and members of Congress in both parties.
The Justice Department reportedly warned White House counsel Don McGahn shortly after Trump’s inauguration that Flynn may have been vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians due to discrepancies between what he told Kislyak and Pence.
Pence and others publicly said Flynn never discussed sanctions against Russia during his pre-inauguration conversations with Kislyak. Flynn later admitted the topic may have came up during his talks with the ambassador.
Relying on Flynn’s account, Pence told CBS News in mid-January that Flynn “did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”
The vice president was reportedly angered after a Washington Post report was published last week claimed Flynn did discuss the sanctions, and he later apologized to Pence.
But that apparently was not enough for Flynn to save his job.
While it was clear Flynn was skating on thin ice, his status was a mystery throughout most of the day Monday.
Trump stayed silent on Flynn’s status; he was not asked about it during a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while his senior aides sent mixed signals to the press about Flynn’s future.
Senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said he enjoyed Trump's “full confidence” on Monday afternoon. But soon after, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters the president was “evaluating” the Flynn situation with the vice president.
Spicer was unequivocal, however, when asked whether Trump has been aware that Flynn was speaking about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
"No, absolutely not,” the spokesman said.
Updated 12:43 a.m.