Donald Trump’s administration was warned by the justice department about national security adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with Russia, the Associated Press has reported, adding to questions about the senior aide’s future.
Hours after the White House said the president was “evaluating” allegations that Flynn lied about secret communications with Russia and misled the vice-president, Mike Pence, sources familiar with the situation were cited by the Associated Press as saying the Trump administration was aware “for weeks” of a justice department warning that Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.
The Washington Post first reported on the DoJ’s warning, which came in late December from then acting attorney general Sally Yates.
Yates was fired by Trump in January after she refused to defend his travel ban. According to the Post, Yates’s concerns that Flynn lied about the nature of his communications with Russia were shared by James Clapper, the outgoing director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, then the director of the CIA.
The allegations come as Trump’s administration faces widespread calls from Democrats to fire Flynn from his post. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that the president was “evaluating the situation”.
“He is speaking to Vice-president Pence relative to the conversation he had with General Flynn and also speaking to various other people about what he considers the single most important subject there is: our national security,” Spicer told reporters at the White House.
Spicer also made clear to reporters that “the statement is what the president’s current thinking is”.
But the noncommittal update appeared to conflict with remarks made moments earlier by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. “General Flynn has the full confidence of the president,” she told reporters.