Michael Flynn resigns as national security adviser: Official

Michael Flynn abruptly quit as President Donald Trump's national security adviser Monday night, hours after it emerged that the Justice Department informed the White House that it believed he could be subject to blackmail.

The resignation also came after previous disclosures that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior officials about his communications with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States. Pence repeated the misinformation in television appearances.

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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
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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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"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. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology," Flynn said in his resignation letter.

Flynn's discussions had raised a possible breach of the Logan Act, a 1799 law that bars unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. However, a senior intelligence official last week told NBC News there had been no finding that Flynn did anything illegal.

After "agonizing" for days over the situation, Trump and his top advisers concluded Flynn's position had become unsustainable because he had lied to the president and the vice president, another senior official told NBC News Monday night.

A senior official also confirmed part of a Washington Post report that Sally Yates, then-acting attorney general, told the White House last month that Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail. Trump fired Yates after she directed Justice Department lawyers not to defend the president's executive order on immigration.

There was barely-concealed glee in some quarters over the departure of Flynn — an outspoken opponent of political correctness who last year wrote on Twitter that "fear of Muslims is rational."

Republican Rep. Bill Flores of Texas said he was "glad" Flynn had gone, adding: "We need more sanctions on Russia, not fewer!"

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — which is investigating the Trump campaign's alleged contacts with Russia — said Flynn's resignation was "all but ordained the day he misled the country about his secret talks with the Russian ambassador."

"In fact, Flynn was always a poor choice for National Security Adviser, a role in which you need to be a consensus builder, and possess sobriety and steady judgment," Schiff said in a statement. "It is certainly no role for someone who plays fast and loose with the truth."

However, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, thanked Flynn for his "many years of distinguished service."

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Reaction to Michael Flynn's resignation
Michael Flynn has resigned as Trump's national security adviser. KEEP SHOWING UP. Our resistance is working! #WhyIResist
Im sad #MichaelFlynn resigned but at the end President Trump did what he had to do and thats says everything.
Flynn's resignation CANNOT be end of the story. Who talked to who? When? Who knew? When? How far up did it go? How much of dossier true?
Well, not even a month in and the first resignation due to scandal, and I doubt it'll be the last.#MICHAELFLYNN
#Flynngate doesn't bode well for @seanspicer. At all. https://t.co/czu8yerodG
If @POTUS knew of #MichaelFlynn and #Russia, then we are a country in crisis now.
Brian Williams goes there: "What did [Trump] know and when did he know it?" #flynn
Dear Mike Flynn & Mike Flynn Jr., What goes around COMETS around. And given your pizza obsession... https://t.co/rmyO7wyJKX xo Philippe
However welcomed General Flynn's resignation is, remember that President Trump's Russia connections and intentions… https://t.co/Trc2oMXDor
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"Michael Flynn served in the U.S. military for more than three decades. Washington, D.C. can be a rough town for honorable people, and Flynn — who has always been a soldier, not a politician — deserves America's gratitude and respect for dedicating so much of his life to strengthening our national security," Nunes said in a statement.

Retired Army Gen. Keith Kellogg, a top policy adviser for Trump's campaign, was appointed acting national security adviser, the White House said.

Kellogg, 72, a former commander of the fabled 82nd Airborne Division, was chief operating officer of the Western coalition in Baghdad, Iraq, after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Also under consideration for the permanent role is retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, former deputy commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, and former CIA Director David Petraeus. Three senior U.S. officials told NBC News that Harward was considered the favorite for the job.

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