Trump Today: President spars with media, dismisses Russia furor, denounces leaks

Posted February 17, 2017

Instead of focusing on the revelation that Flynn discussed US sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and then misled Vice President Mike Pence, Trump on Tuesday suggested attention should instead be paid to leaks coming out of Washington.

Michael Flynn has found himself embroiled in controversy after allegations that he spoke to Russia's ambassador to the USA before Mr. Trump to office about possibly lifting American sanctions on Russian Federation.

Mr Flynn resigned over allegations he discussed U.S. sanctions with a Russian envoy before Donald Trump took office.

Further, the official said, it was unclear whether the intercepted phone call was picked up as part of a formal counterintelligence investigation into Flynn, or through some other means of domestic or counterintelligence surveillance directed at the ambassador.

However, he said he asked Mr Flynn to resign because "didn't tell our Vice President properly" and lied about remembering the content of the call.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called for full classified briefings this week. Although Flynn has taken substantial criticism for potentially discussing sanctions, Spicer said White House counsel had investigated the matter and concluded there was nothing illegal about it.

The House Intelligence Committee is also looking into Russian tampering, and Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, said Tuesday, "alleged contacts and any others the Trump campaign may have had with the Kremlin are the subject of the House Intelligence Committee's ongoing investigation".

It appears that was not correct, and Flynn did discuss sanctions on the calls.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian Federation would not be commenting on the resignation.

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The White House press conference - which had ostensibly been called for Mr. Trump to announce a new nominee for Secretary of Labour - was a return to the sort of lengthy, meandering, off-the-cuff speeches that were a hallmark of the President's campaign rallies previous year.

The 70-year-old President accused the American intelligence community of being behind the leaks, directly pointing the finger at the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

Last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced that the administration had launched an investigation into the leaks.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called for Mr Flynn to be fired, saying he "cannot be trusted not to put Putin before America".

Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine said that if Mr Pence were misled, "I can't imagine he would have trust in Gen Flynn going forward". "Let's take it away from Congress and [the] White House".

Flynn had originally told Pence that his conversations with ambassador Sergey Kislyak were limited to small talk, information that the vice president later used to defend the security advisor in interviews with the press.

Yet, the president continued to back Flynn. Later, when asked by CNN's Jim Acosta to clarify the statement, the president responded, "The reporting is fake".

The retired army lieutenant-general initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf.