PALM BEACH, Fla. — A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances Sunday to publicly defend embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before President Trump’s inauguration.
The uncertainty comes as Trump is dealing with North Korea’s apparent first missile launch of his presidency, along with visits this week from the leaders of Israel and Canada.
Trump has yet to comment on the allegations against Flynn, and a top aide dispatched to represent the administration on the Sunday news shows skirted questions on the topic, saying it was not his place to weigh in on the “sensitive matter.”
Pressed repeatedly, top policy adviser Stephen Miller said it wasn’t up to him to say whether the president retains confidence in Flynn.
“It’s not for me to tell you what’s in the president’s mind,” he said on NBC. “That’s a question for the president.”
The White House said in an anonymous statement Friday that the president had full confidence in Flynn.
But officials have been mum since then amid fallout from reports that Flynn addressed U.S. sanctions against Russia in a phone call late last year. The report, which first appeared in The Washington Post, contradicted both Flynn’s previous denials, as well as those made by Vice President Mike Pence in a televised interview.
Trump has been discussing the situation with associates, according to a person who spoke with him recently. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a lack of authorization to discuss private conversations.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who led Trump’s pre-election transition planning, said Flynn would have to explain his conflicting statements about Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Trump and Pence.