The White House is reeling after the departure of NSA Mike Flynn and new allegations about Trump associates’ contacts with Russian government officials during the campaign. The Trump Administration has lost control of the narrative, as past statements of both the President and senior aides appear to have been false. Meanwhile the White House is struggling to rewrite its account of Flynn’s ouster to give the President a stronger role in the situation, with the White House saying Tuesday that Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation—essentially firing him—hours after top aides suggested that Trump was willing to keep him on. There are also new tensions across West Executive Avenue as the Vice President’s office confirmed that Mike Pence only learned of Flynn’s apparent lies to him on Feb. 9 after reading about it in news reports. The President and senior staff had been briefed on the same weeks before, but never reached out to Pence or his team.
The chaotic situation is hard to ignore. On Capitol Hill, even Republicans were forced to expand their probe of Russian influence in the election to include Flynn’s contacts—an increase in scope that will place more scrutiny on the President. Lawmakers worry about the impact of the drama on the nation’s standing in the world, let alone Trump’a agenda. Even the military is taking notice. “Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil. I hope they sort it out soon because we’re a nation at war,” Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of the military’s Special Operations Command, said at a Washington conference Tuesday.
Trump will host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Wednesday as U.S. officials signaled that Trump is breaking from a decades-long foreign policy push for a two-state solution for Middle East peace. The Trump administration faced two calls for investigation in a single hour Tuesday. And Russia makes increasingly aggressive moves toward the U.S.
Here are your must reads:
Trump Administration Will Not Insist on Two-State Solution in Middle East, White House Official Says
A break from decades of U.S. policy [TIME]
Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence
Officials contradict Trump and White House claims in growing scandal [New York Times]
For GOP, a Dimmed Zeal for Investigations in Trump Era
Short memories [Associated Press]
U.S. Detains Mexican Immigrant in Seattle Covered by Obama Program
Key moment for Trump immigration policy [Reuters]
Senators From Both Parties Pledge to Deepen Probe of Russia and the 2016 Election
Flynn ouster forces GOP’s hand [Washington Post]
Flynn’s Statements to FBI Under Scrutiny
Uh oh… [Politico]
“The irony of this entire situation is that the president has been incredibly tough on Russia.” — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Tuesday
“He was aware of the situation right after the White House Counsel informed him back in January” —White House Press Secretary on when Trump learned of Flynn’s apparent misstatements to VP Mike Pence
Bits and Bites
Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump [New York Times]
Nancy Pelosi cited a fake Michael Flynn tweet [Washington Post]