National security adviser Michael Flynn said Monday that he may have discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the US before President Donald Trump was sworn into office, despite previously insisting he hadn't.
Meanwhile, of Trump's top advisers said he still had "full confidence" in his national security adviser, but the White House press secretary said Trump was "evaluating the situation."
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
National security adviser General Michael Flynn delivers a statement daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn arrives at the Trump Tower for meetings with US President-elect Donald Trump, in New York on November 17, 2016.
(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired United States Army lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn introduces Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump before he delivered a speech at The Union League of Philadelphia on September 7, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trump spoke about his plans to build up the military if elected. Recent national polls show the presidential race is tightening with two months until the election.
(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, at podium, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign event with veterans at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., NW, where Trump stated he believes President Obama was born in the United States, September 16, 2016.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) yields the briefing room podium to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flynn said the White House is 'officially putting Iran on notice' for a recent missile test and support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, prepares to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled 'Current and Future Worldwide Threats,' featuring testimony by he and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn boards Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
National security adviser General Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (L) arrives at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) walks down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: (L-R) SCAD Dramatic writing professor Chris Auer, Producer Sandra Leviton, Executive producer and writer Michael Flynn, Tv literary agent Jeff Greenberg and Literary manager and producer Kaila York speak on stage during the 'Inside the Writers Room' event on Day One of aTVfest 2017 presented by SCAD on February 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.), National Security Advisor Designate speaks during a conference on the transition of the US Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the US Institute Of Peace in Washington DC, January 10, 2017. / AFP / CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, attends a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a hallmark of our democracy. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Michael Flynn walks out after a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R), talks with National Security Advisor Michael Flynn inside of the inaugural parade reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation's 45th president today. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, center, stands in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Donald Trump is slated to meet with AT&T Inc.'s top executives on Thursday to discuss the company's proposed $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. The president-elect has said he opposes the deal. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Gen. Michael T. Flynn (R) arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.) and National Security Advisor Designate and Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor during a ceremonial passing of authority while participating in a conference on the transition of the US Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the US Institute Of Peace in Washington DC, January 10, 2017. / AFP / CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Flynn's admission came in the form of an apology to Vice President Mike Pence, USA Today reported, citing a White House official. Pence had defended Flynn in an interview with CBS last month, saying he "didn't discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia."
Reports emerged over the weekend and into Monday that Flynn was on thin ice with the president and could be ousted from his position. But Trump's senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, seemed to told MSNBC's Steve Kornacki that Flynn continues to "enjoy the full confidence of the president."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a subsequent statement that Trump is "evaluating the situation" involving Flynn.
Trump "is speaking to Vice President Pence relative to the conversation the Vice President 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 said.
When pressed by Kornacki about whether Trump was bothered by the fact that Flynn may have lied to White House officials, including the vice president, about the calls, Conway replied that Kornacki was "asking hypotheticals."
"What if it's not true?" she asked, saying that Flynn had merely said he could "not recall" whether sanctions were discussed on the calls.
The Washington Post and New York Times reported on Thursday night, citing nearly a dozen current and former officials in total, that Flynn had spoken with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, about sanctions before Trump was sworn in. Those talks included at least one call on the day President Barack Obama imposed new penalties on Russia for its election-related meddling, according to the reports.
Counterintelligence officials told the Times they had transcripts of the conversations. Flynn denied the allegations through Wednesday, according to the Post, but then backed away from those denials through his spokesperson on Thursday.
Flynn, the spokesperson said, "indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up."
Federal officials who have read the transcript of the call were "surprised by Mr. Flynn's comments, since he would have known that American eavesdroppers closely monitor such calls," the Times reported. "They were even more surprised that Mr. Trump's team publicly denied that the topics of conversation included sanctions."
Top Democrats have called for Flynn to step down, noting that he may have violated the Logan Act by discussing sensitive topics such as sanctions with a foreign official. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday became the latest Democrat to call for Trump to fire Flynn.
The Logan Act prohibits private citizens from engaging in diplomacy on behalf of the United States, but it is unclear if that would extend to a president-elect's transition team, Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said last month.