Former Gen. Michael Flynn, the Trump Administration’s National Security Advisor, reportedly spoke to the Russian Ambassador on the phone about US sanctions of Russia, and did so before Donald Trump was sworn in as president – such a move, if true, is not just shady politics, it’s against the law. Following these reports, one of Flynn’s top aides was denied the high-level security clearance required to serve on the National Security Council, a sign of increasing tension between Flynn and the intelligence community.
On Monday, Flynn resigned, although White House press secretary Sean Spicer claims Flynn was fired due to “an evolving and eroding level of trust.” Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Flynn’s former chief of staff, will serve as his temporary replacement. Flynn’s resignation reignited the controversy surrounding Trump’s relationship with Russia – on Tuesday, the New York Times published a report, based on phone calls intercepted by the NSA, alleging that there had, indeed, been contact between senior-level Trump aides and Russian intelligence operatives. Also in the report: the FBI is continuing to investigate the controversial dossier compiled by a British spy-turned-opposition-researcher during the 2016 election.
Late Thursday retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down an offer to replace Flynn, citing family commitments.
You can read Flynn’s resignation letter here.
North Korea performed its first ballistic missile test since Donald Trump assumed the presidency, confirming it as a success on Sunday. South Korea’s defense ministry described the "surface-to-surface medium-to-long-range ballistic missile" as “an armed provocation to test the response of US President Donald Trump,” according to the BBC. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on a visit to the US, condemned the test as “absolutely intolerable,” while Trump himself did not comment directly on the missile test, instead offering a vow of loyalty to Japan, claiming the US was “behind Japan, our great ally, one hundred percent.”
Trump was informed of the test while at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Boca Raton, FL, and quickly set up a situation room of sorts out on the terrace, in full view of staff and guests, a few of whom took photos and posted them on Facebook. Trump’s public “performance” of his duties is part of a troubling pattern of questionable security decisions, such as using his old unsecured Android phone and giving Steve Bannon a spot on the National Security Council.
That photo of Justin Trudeau hesitating to shake Donald Trump’s hand is, as TIME reports, not what it seems.
The ongoing saga of the queen of alternative facts
Kellyanne Conway is taking more heat for her comments last week regarding Ivanka Trump’s clothing line: the Office of Government Ethics, the federal government’s chief ethics oversight body, wrote in a letter to the White House that Conway’s actions appear to be “a clear violation of the prohibition against the misuse of a position,” according to the New York Times. The OGE letter comes after Conway’s credibility as a White House insider was called into question – just hours before former Gen. Michael Flynn resigned as the National Security Advisor, Conway had claimed Flynn had President Trump’s “full confidence.”
Fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder withdraws his nomination as Labor Secretary after four Republican senators express doubts…Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…the Senate votes to repeal an Obama-era regulation designed to keep the mentally ill from purchasing guns…Trump holds bizarre, hour-long press conference Thursday nominating Alexander Acosta for Labor Secretary and again blasting the press for “dishonesty”.
above image: donkeyhotey / flickr