President Donald Trump passes Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as he arrives via Air Force One at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Trump stopped for a visit to the headquarters for U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command before returning to Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump passes Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as he arrives via Air Force One at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. Trump stopped for a visit to the headquarters for U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command before returning to Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

'The knives are out': Trump's security adviser quits

WHITE House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned after reports he misled officials about contact with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

Flynn's departure less than one month into President Donald Trump's administration marks an extraordinarily early shake-up in the senior team of aides.

A White House spokesman confirmed President Trump has named Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg Jr as Acting National Security Adviser.

Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter throughout the campaign, but his ties to Russia caused concern. Flynn initially said he did not discuss sanctions with the Russian envoy.

Vice President Mike Pence, apparently relying on information from Flynn, publicly vouched for the national security adviser.

Flynn later told White House officials that he may have discussed sanctions with the ambassador.

Two people familiar with the situation say the Justice Department warned the Trump administration about Flynn's contacts with Russia.

The New York Times today reports that the department was concerned he could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.

The newspaper also reports that officials said Vice President Pence has told others that he believes Mr Flynn lied to him.

Any discussion of policy before Trump took office represents a protocol breach.

Flynn was not able to definitively refute a Washington Post story late last week that his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak included communication about sanctions.

It is illegal for unauthorised private citizens to negotiate with foreign governments on behalf of the US.

The controversy intensified after the report put Pence and several senior White House advisers in an uncomfortable position, as they had denied in TV interviews weeks earlier that Flynn discussed sanctions with the ambassador.

"The knives are out," a White House official told CNN on Friday, noting that "there's a lot of unhappiness about this."

n his formal resignation letter, Flynn acknowledged that in the period leading up to Trump's inauguration: "I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador."

Flynn said he held numerous calls with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition and gave "incomplete information" about those discussions to Vice President Pence.

A Trump administration official says the White House has been aware of the Justice Department warning for "weeks."

That official would not say if the president had been briefed on the matter.

The move comes less than a month into the job, making him one of the shortest-serving senior presidential advisers in modern history.

The shock resignation leaves Trump without one of his closest and longest-serving advisers. Flynn had been a right-hand man for Trump on foreign policy and national security matters since early in the 2016 presidential race.

ump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reportedly involved in a search for candidates to replace Flynn, according to sources close to the administration, Politico reports.

The list of replacements includes retired General David Petraeus, who's scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House tomorrow, according to two sources, who spoke to Politico.

Other possible candidate include Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser under President George W. Bush; Tom Bossert, who served as a national security aide under Bush and now oversees cybersecurity under Trump; Admiral James Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts; and Department of Homeland Security head John Kelly.

News Corp Australia


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