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Flynn's top aide is fired from National Security Council





Flynn's top aide is fired from National Security Council Flynn's top aide is fired from National Security Council
  • Flynn's top deputy, Robin Townley, was fired from National Security Council 
  • Townley was denied a critical security clearance by Central Intelligence Agency  
  • Denial comes a day after Flynn reportedly discussed US sanctions against Russia with Moscow's ambassador to US 
  • He reportedly held five phone calls with ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec 29, when Barack Obama retaliated for Moscow's alleged interference in US election
  • Current and former US officials interpreted contact as 'potentially illegal' signal to Russia that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions imposed by Obama 
  • Flynn faced new accusations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence on Friday
  • Accusations were about discussions with Kislyak regarding the Trump administration's willingness to ease US economic sanctions on Moscow

Michael Flynn's top aide was fired from the National Security Council (NSC) on Friday, just a day after it was revealed that the National Security Adviser may have discussed sanctions with a Russian ambassador to the US.

Top deputy, Robin Townley, who is the senior director for Africa, was rejected for a critical security clearance by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Townley, who is a former Marine intelligence officer, had made a request for an elite security clearance required for service on the NSC, sources told Politico, but his request was ultimately denied.  

The denial ended Townley's tenure on the NSC as tensions continue to escalate between Flynn and the intelligence community.

 Michael Flynn's (pictured Friday) top aide was fired from the National Security Council (NSC) on Friday, just a day after it was revealed that the National Security Adviser may have discussed sanctions with a Russian ambassador to the US

Michael Flynn's (pictured Friday) top aide was fired from the National Security Council (NSC) on Friday, just a day after it was revealed that the National Security Adviser may have discussed sanctions with a Russian ambassador to the US

 Top deputy, Robin Townley, who is the senior director for Africa, was rejected for a critical security clearance by the Central Intelligence Agency. The denial effectively ended his tenure on the NSC as tensions escalate between Flynn (pictured) and the intelligence community

Top deputy, Robin Townley, who is the senior director for Africa, was rejected for a critical security clearance by the Central Intelligence Agency. The denial effectively ended his tenure on the NSC as tensions escalate between Flynn (pictured) and the intelligence community

One source told Politico that the rejection was approved by President Donald Trump's CIA director Mike Pompeo.

It's still unclear why Townley's request for 'Sensitive Compartmented Information' clearance was rejected.

But Flynn and his allies believe it was motivated by Townley's skepticism of the intelligence community's techniques, sources told Politico. 

'They believe this is a hit job from inside the CIA on Flynn and the people close to him,' one source told the site.

The source went on to say that some in the intelligence community feel threatened by Flynn and his allies, including Townley, who 'believes that the CIA doesn't run the world'.

Rep Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, dismissed the claims as 'baloney', according to Politico.

Schiff said that Trump and Flynn 'see treachery everywhere they go' and 'if a security clearance is denied, it's for a reason'.

 Earlier on Friday, Flynn faced new accusations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussions with a Russian official regarding the Trump administration's willingness to ease US economic sanctions on Moscow

Earlier on Friday, Flynn faced new accusations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussions with a Russian official regarding the Trump administration's willingness to ease US economic sanctions on Moscow

 Flynn has acknowledged communicating with Kislyak (pictured) and is no longer denying the subject was raised

Flynn has acknowledged communicating with Kislyak (pictured) and is no longer denying the subject was raised

Another source told Politico that within the White House, Flynn is regarded by some as waging 'a jihad against the intelligence community' for trying to turn Trump against the intelligence community during the campaign and transition period.

Earlier on Friday, Flynn faced new accusations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding the Trump administration's willingness to ease US economic sanctions on Moscow.

Flynn has acknowledged communicating with Kislyak and is no longer denying the subject was raised.

That version of events differs from an ironclad denial Pence delivered to a CBS News interviewer last month, when he said the conversations were 'strictly coincidental' and had nothing to do with then President Barack Obama's decision to punish Russia for meddling in the November presidential election.

A Trump administration official told DailyMail.com on Friday that Flynn 'can't be certain sanctions didn’t come up' in a December call, which occurred while Obama was still president.

A second official added: 'To the best of his knowledge he does not recall having talked about sanctions but he cannot be 100 per cent that they didn’t come up.' 

That same official, when asked whether Flynn's role advising Trump has changed in light of the latest allegations, said: 'Not that I’m aware of.'  

Trump himself deflected a question about the brewing scandal during a brief conversation with reporters Friday on Air Force One.

'I don't know about that. I haven't seen it,' he said while responding to a question about The Washington Post story. 'What report is that? I haven't seen that. I'll look into that.'

 Trump deflected a question about the brewing scandal during a brief conversation with reporters Friday on Air Force One. 'I don't know about that. I haven't seen it. What report is that? I haven't seen that. I'll look into that.' He's pictured walking with Flynn on February 6

Trump deflected a question about the brewing scandal during a brief conversation with reporters Friday on Air Force One. 'I don't know about that. I haven't seen it. What report is that? I haven't seen that. I'll look into that.' He's pictured walking with Flynn on February 6

Flynn told the Post that he and Kislyak hadn't discussed sanctions.

The first administration official who spoke on Friday did not dispute the Post's story.  

Pence declared January 15 on CBS's 'Face the Nation' program that Flynn and Kislyak 'did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.' 

The vice president insisted then, 'is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy'.

Politico reported Friday that an administration official had confirmed Pence's remarks were guided by what Flynn told him, raising the possibility that the retired US army lieutenant general gave him false information to communicate on television.

Pence's reputation as a cautious straight-shooter makes him an exception in an administration whose senior ranks include many officials seen as inconsistent in their statements – and a few the press corps see as crafty and evasive.  

Last month, it was reported that Flynn had held five phone calls Kislyak on December 29, the day Obama retaliated for Moscow's alleged interference in the election.

However, several current and former senior US officials interpreted the contacts as a 'potentially illegal' signal to Russia that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in December, according to the Post.

The Kremlin denied Friday that Flynn and Kislyak discussed the sanctions before Trump took office.  

Officials said this week that the FBI is continuing to examine Flynn's contacts with Kislyak. 


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