On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-anticipated visit to the White House, a key member of President Donald Trump’s staff, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, resigned due to mounting pressure over his contacts with Russia.
Flynn resigned late Monday night after admitting that he had misled Trump administration officials, notably Vice President Mike Pence, over his conversation with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in December. Flynn denied that he spoke with Kislyak regarding fresh American sanctions on Russia imposed by former President Barack Obama, but it was later revealed that Flynn and the Russian envoy had in fact discussed that topic, the Washington Post reported.
In his resignation letter to Trump, Flynn said he “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.”
Flynn’s departure may be a significant development for Netanyahu, who shares Flynn’s assertive view of the Iranian threat. Following Iran’s ballistic missile test in late January, Flynn officially put Iran “on notice” and underlined Iran’s “destabilizing behavior across the Middle East.” Flynn also played a key role in setting up the Feb. 15 meeting between Trump and Netanyahu.
According to Haaretz, Flynn met twice with Israeli Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and Israel’s acting national security adviser, Jacob Nagel, since Trump’s election victory. The first round of meetings took place in early December and the second came in mid-January. Last week, a final round of meetings was held between Nagel and Flynn in order to finish preparations for the visit.