Now-resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reportedly stuck to his guns in his final hours in office, telling the Daily Caller in a terse interview he didn’t break laws or cross boundaries during discussions with Russia’s ambassador – and what should be the greater concern is that somebody committed a crime by giving the information of his conversations to the press.
Flynn resigned Monday evening after it was revealed he improperly engaged in talks with Russia’s ambassador and failed to notify the White House. In his resignation letter, Flynn admitted he “inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”
Flynn also said he offered his apology to both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and they accepted it.
But the story’s hardly ended.
Trump, in a tweet, wrote: “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!”
And to the Daily Caller, Flynn doubled down the takeaway for the American people should not be about his failure to tell Pence and other White House officials about his conversations with Russia, but rather about the leaks that alerted to his conversations.
“In some of these cases, you’re talking about stuff that’s taken off of a classified system and given to a reporter,” he said. “You call them leaks. It’s a criminal act. This is a crime. It’s not just a wink and a nod.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Flynn’s resignation raises interesting questions about the FBI’s eavesdropping practices.
Specifically, Nunes wondered why U.S. intelligence was listening in to the Russian ambassador’s calls with a private citizen, Flynn, and then leaking that information to the media.
“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on,” Nunes said, the Washington Post reported. “And they better have a good answer. The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”
Trump responded to that facet of the story with another tweet.
“The real story here,” he wrote, “is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N. Korea etc?”
Flynn’s resignation was rather sudden. Just hours before he resigned, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway took to national television to address the then-blooming reports about Flynn’s conversations with Russia to say he still had “the full confidence of the president.” Shortly after, White House spokesman Sean Spicer seemed to contradict that by saying Trump was actually reevaluating Flynn’s role. And just hours later, Flynn resigned.
But as Flynn said to the Daily Caller, Trump had indeed “expressed confidence” right up to the last minute.
“That’s when he told me that we need to go out and talk [to the press] more,” Flynn said.
Flynn also said he’s been fairly quiet on the self-defense front because he prefers to stay behind the scenes.
“I haven’t been fighting back because I’m not that kind of guy,” Flynn said, to the Daily Caller. “I’ve always been behind the scenes. But this is ridiculous. It’s so out of control. I’ve become an international celebrity for all the wrong reasons.”
Flynn said he’s not sure which intelligence agency released the information, suggesting it could be someone with the National Security Council, the State Department, the Defense Department, or from one of the many intel agencies.