A top adviser to US President Donald Trump resigned late yesterday over misleading accounts of his potentially illegal calls with Russian officials before Trump's administration took office, the White House confirmed.
"Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador," US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said in a resignation letter published by the White House.
"I am tendering my resignation, honoured to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way," Flynn wrote.
Flynn reportedly discussed lifting sanctions on Moscow with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec 29, the same day that then-president Barack Obama announced them over Russian interference in the US presidential campaign.
It is illegal under the US Logan Act for a private citizen, as Flynn was at the time, to engage in diplomacy with foreign officials.
Earlier yesterday, ABC News and other US media outlets reported that Flynn apologised to Vice-President Mike Pence for leading him to believe he had not discussed sanctions in his phone calls.
In January, Pence had assured an interviewer that Flynn and Kislyak did not discuss "anything having to do with the United States decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia".
But the Washington Post reported last week that the two did indeed discuss sanctions. A senior administration official later said Flynn was not "completely certain" if he had discussed the measures or not.
Opposition leaders pounced on the allegations against Flynn as evidence of the Trump administration's alleged ties to Russia.
"Now we have a National Security Adviser who cannot be trusted not to put Putin before America," House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "National security demands that General Flynn be fired immediately."
Trump named Joseph Keith Kellogg as acting national security adviser in Flynn's place.