(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was fired not based on a legal issue but based on a trust issue.
“We’ve been reviewing and evaluating this issue with respect to General Flynn on a daily basis for a few weeks, trying to ascertain the truth. We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue where the level of trust between the president and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change,” Spicer said.
“The president was very concerned that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others,” Spicer said. “He was also very concerned in light of sensitive subjects dealt with by that position of national security adviser - like China, North Korea, and the Middle East - that the president must have complete and unwavering trust for the person in that position.
“The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for General Flynn’s resignation,” he added.
Spicer said the White House counsel reviewed the situation and “determined that there is not an illegal issue, but rather a trust issue.”
"Immediately after the Department of Justice notified the White House counsel of the situation, the White House counsel briefed the president and a small group of his senior advisers. The White House counsel reviewed and determined that there is not an illegal issue, but rather a trust issue," he said.
“During the process, it’s important to note that the president did not have his attorney general Jeff Sessions, who he trusts immensely, approved by the Senate. When the president heard the information as presented by White House counsel, he instinctively thought that General Flynn did not do anything wrong, and the White House counsel’s review corroborated that,” Spicer said.
Spicer said it wasn’t out of the ordinary “for an incoming national security adviser to speak with his counterparts about the issues of concern to them.”
“As Charles Krauthammer said last night, it is, ‘perfectly reasonable for him to do so.’ The issue here was that the president got to the point where General Flynn’s ... misleading the vice president and others or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation, had created a critical mass in an unsustainable situation,” the press secretary said.
“The irony of this entire situation is that the president has been incredibly tough on Russia. He continues to raise the issue of Crimea, which the previous administration had allowed to be seized by Russia. His ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, stood before the UN Security Council on her first day and strongly denounced the Russian occupation of Crimea. As Ambassador Haley said at the time, the ‘dire situation in Eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions,’” Spicer said.
“President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to de-escalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea,” Spicer said. “At the same time, he fully expects to and wants to be able to get along with Russia unlike previous administrations so that we can solve many problems together facing the world such as the threat of ISIS and terrorism."
Spicer said he is considering “very strong candidates” to replace Flynn as national security adviser. In the meantime, retired Gen. Keith Kellogg, a member of Trump’s transition team, will serve as interim national security adviser.