- The Washington Times - Monday, February 13, 2017

President Trump is “evaluating the situation” involving national security adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., the White House said late Monday.

Addressing questions about Mr. Flynn’s future in the new administration, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the president is speaking to Vice President Mike Pence about “the conversation the vice president had with Gen. Flynn” last month.

Based on the vice president’s conversation with Mr. Flynn in early January, Mr. Pence assured the public that the national security adviser had not discussed U.S. sanctions against Moscow with the Russian ambassador before Mr. Trump’s inauguration. It’s illegal for a private U.S. citizen to conduct foreign policy.

But Mr. Flynn now says he can’t be certain that the subject of sanctions didn’t come up with the Russian envoy. That revelation has angered Mr. Pence, and Mr. Flynn reportedly apologized to the vice president privately.

Mr. Spicer said the president is “also speaking to various other people about what he considers the single most important subject there is: our national security.”

The statement by the president’s spokesman raising doubts about Mr. Flynn’s job status contradicted what had been said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who asserted about an hour earlier that Mr. Trump had “full confidence” in Mr. Flynn.

Mrs. Conway said Mr. Flynn and the vice president spoke twice Friday after The Washington Post published a story about the national security adviser’s conversation with the Russian ambassador.

Mr. Trump has told associates he is troubled by the situation, but he has not said whether he plans to ask Mr. Flynn to step down, according to a person who spoke with him recently.

On Monday evening, the Associated Press and other news outlets reported, citing unnamed sources, that the Justice Department had warned the White House about Mr. Flynn and his Russian contacts weeks ago.

Citing one person “with knowledge of the situation,” AP said Justice noted discrepancies between officials’ public words and what had happened and was “concerned Flynn could be in a compromised position.”

Mr. Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter during the campaign, but he is viewed skeptically by some in the administration’s national security circles, in part because of his ties to Russia. In 2015, Mr. Flynn was paid to attend a gala dinner for Russia Today, a Kremlin-backed television station, and sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the event.

As questions intensified about Mr. Flynn’s job status, all Democratic lawmakers on the House Government Oversight Committee urged Republican Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah in a letter Monday to launch an investigation of Mr. Flynn’s ties to Russia.

“Grave questions have been raised about the fitness of Gen. Flynn to serve as national security advisor and to continue having access to classified information,” the lawmakers wrote. “He may have lied about these discussions not only to the American people, but to his own White House colleagues, including the vice president. It is difficult to imagine a more serious list of allegations for our committee to investigate.”

Rep. David Cicilline, Rhode Island Democrat and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mr. Trump should make public his national security adviser’s phone conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

“President Trump still has not commented on the behavior of one of his top aides,” said Mr. Cicilline. “It is time for this administration to tell the truth. Release the transcripts of Michael Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador.”

Mr. Flynn sat in the front row of the president’s news conference at the with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House Monday afternoon.

Reporters did not ask Mr. Trump about the situation.

This article is based in part on wire-service reports.

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