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Michael Flynn’s resignation signals instability in the White House — but, perhaps, more stability in American foreign policy.
- The first high-profile resignation of a Trump appointee comes 24 days into his presidency: Michael Flynn resigned as national security adviser Monday night, amid evidence that he discussed US sanctions against Russia with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and allegations that he violated federal law by lying to the FBI about it. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
- Flynn, in an interview with the Daily Caller that appears to be the last one of his tenure, insists that he did nothing wrong. [Daily Caller / Richard Pollock]
- By this point, though, the Flynn scandal isn’t just about Flynn. It’s become a classic question of who in the Trump administration knew, what they knew, and when they knew it. (The Huffington Post has a helpful timeline.) [Huffington Post / Jessica Schulberg]
- That skein began to unravel Monday night, when reports surfaced that Justice Department officials had told White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn had lied in late January. (This puts McGahn at the intersection of both the biggest fiascos of the young Trump administration, in case you’re keeping score.) [Lawfare / Jack Goldsmith]
- Press secretary Sean Spicer was quick to assert that the White House had independently investigated Flynn, and, despite President Trump being proven “instinctively correct” in his snap judgment that no law had been broken, the investigation showed a breach of trust.
- That story, which was flimsy to begin with, is already falling apart — with White House sources (presumably allies of VP Mike Pence) reporting that Pence didn’t know until last Thursday, when the Washington Post broke the news of the sanctions call, that the DOJ had already told the White House about it 11 days earlier. [NBC News / Vaughn Hillyard and Hallie Jackson]
- While Flynn’s resignation portends instability for the Trump White House, it’s a breath of relief for many in the foreign policy establishment. Flynn was, in many ways, the most erratic and Islamophobic of Trump’s inner circle, and having him gone makes several of the worst-case scenarios of a Trump presidency less plausible. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
- (It’s likely, in fact, that intelligence operatives engaged in some strategic leaking and gamesmanship to help push Flynn out — which some observers see as a disconcerting parallel to how “deep state” shadow governments operate in countries like Turkey.) [The Week / Damon Linker]
- But while some in the intelligence community see Flynn’s ouster as a chance to turn over a new leaf, others are still deeply wary of the Trump administration. [The Guardian / Spencer Ackerman]
- After all, Flynn was far from the only Trump adviser with Islamophobic credentials. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]