Michael Flynn resigned late Monday in the wake of reports that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his contacts with Russia.
After days of denying the reports, then eventually saying that he was not sure if he discussed sanctions against Russia with Russian officials, Flynn finally said that discussions of sanctions "may have come up" during several calls with the Russian ambassador. The calls were made before Donald Trump was sworn in as president.
Controversy has arisen around the conversation,because under the Logan Act, it is illegal for private citizens to conduct U.S. diplomacy.
Here’s a timeline of events of Flynn’s tenure as national security adviser:
Nov. 18, 2016 – Trump announces that Flynn has been offered the post of national security adviser. Flynn accepts the job.
Dec. 28, 2016 – Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, exchange Christmas text messages by cellphone.
Dec. 29, 2016 – President Barack Obama announces sanctions against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. He orders 35 Russian diplomats out of the country.
Dec. 29, 2016 – On the same day, Flynn calls the Russian ambassador. The New York Times reports that Flynn, according to officials who saw a transcript of the wiretapped conversation between Flynn and Kislyak, discussed the sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Russia.
Jan. 14, 2017 – According to Pence, Flynn tells him that he and Kislyak did not talk about Russian sanctions.
Jan. 15, 2017 – Pence appears on “Fox News Sunday” and says that Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador “were not in any way related to the new U.S. sanctions against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats.”
Jan. 20, 2017 – Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.
Jan. 22, 2017 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Flynn is under investigation by U.S. counterintelligence for the phone calls to the Russian ambassador.
Late January: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informs the White House counsel of Flynn's misleading statements.
Feb. 13, 2017 – White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says around 5 p.m. that the administration has “full confidence” in Flynn. Minutes later, Sean Spicer, press spokesman for the White House, issues a statement that reads: “The president is evaluating the situation. He's speaking to the vice president relative to the conversation the vice president had with Gen. Flynn, and also speaking to various other people about what he considers the single most important subject there is: our national security.” The Washington Post reports at 8 p.m. ; that the Justice Department told White House officials that Flynn “mischaracterized his communications."
Feb. 13, 2017 – Flynn resigns his position of national security adviser just before 11 p.m.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” Flynn wrote in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology.
“I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way."
Feb. 13, 2017 – Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr. is named acting national security adviser just after 11 p.m.
The Associated Press is reporting that there are three possible replacements being considered for Flynn. They are:
Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg
Kellogg was previously appointed National Security Council chief of staff and, along with Flynn, advised Trump on national security and foreign policy issues during the campaign. He had been considered for national security adviser before the post went to Flynn.
Kellogg was chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, the interim governing body after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He previously worked as executive vice president of research and technology for Virginia-based information technology firm CACI International, which works as a contractor for defense, intelligence and homeland security agencies.
Gen. David Petraeus
The most audacious choice would likely be former CIA director Petraeus. Petraeus, a retired four-star general, was bounced from his position atop the intelligence agency in 2012 after he it was revealed that he passed on classified information to his biographer, who had also become his mistress.
But Trump during the campaign spoke sympathetically about Petraeus' plight despite his frequent criticisms of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for mishandling classified materials. Petraeus was briefly under consideration to become secretary of state before Trump picked Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson.
Vice Admiral Robert Harward
Harward, a Navy SEAL, served as deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command when it was under the command of Gen. James Mattis, who is now secretary of defense. He served on the National Security Council for President George W. Bush and commissioned the National Counter Terrorism Center.
Upon his retirement in 2013 after a nearly 40-year career in the Navy, Harward took a post as chief executive officer for defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates. Trump has recently been in very public negotiations with Lockheed over the cost of its F-35 fighter jet program.
Sources: New York Times; Washington Post; BBC, The Associated Press