Mike Flynn, President Trump’s ousted national security adviser, said hours before his resignation on Monday that he discussed a review of the Obama administration’s eleventh-hour rejection of dozens of Russian diplomats with the Russian ambassador in December, but said he did not discuss sanctions relief during the now-infamous phone call.

“It wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out,” Flynn said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation, his last before stepping down. “So that’s what it turned out to be. It was basically, ‘Look, I know this happened. We’ll review everything.’ I never said anything such as, ‘We’re going to review sanctions,’ or anything like that.”

Former President Barack Obama forced 35 Russian diplomats to leave the U.S. as part of a round of sanctions levied against Russia in response to the alleged Russian hacking of Democrats and the release of their emails during the presidential election.

Flynn had been accused of discussing those sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a pre-inaugural conversation, an allegation Flynn denied in public and private at the time.

Vice President Mike Pence later repeated Flynn’s denial as fact in a televised interview.

“For the vice president, I feel terrible. I put him in a position. He’s a man of incredible integrity. I think the world of him. He is so good for our country,” Flynn said during his final interview in office. “I should have said, ‘I don’t know. I can’t recall,’ which is the truth. Looking back, that’s what I should have done.”

Flynn stressed that his conversation with Kislyak “was not to relieve sanctions. It was basically to say, ‘Look, we’re coming into office in a couple of weeks. Give us some time to take a look at everything.'”

The former national security adviser said on Monday that Trump had invited him to address the allegations against him directly with the press, contrary to reports that the White House had ordered Flynn to avoid reporters over the weekend.

“I haven’t been fighting back because I’m not that kind of guy. I’m behind the scenes. I’ve always been behind the scenes,” Flynn said. “But this is ridiculous. It’s so out of control. I’ve become an international celebrity for all the wrong reasons.”

House Republicans resist calls for independent commission on Russian meddling

Also from the Washington Examiner

House Republicans are resisting the renewed calls from Democrats to create an independent commission to investigate Russian meddling in U.S. affairs in the wake of national security adviser Mike Flynn’s resignation.

“Right now when you have no legislative agenda, when you have no hope for the American people, when you just got beat badly in an election in November, which you thought you were gonna win, what else are you going to do? Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., asked. “We’re investigating through the proper committees. We’re going to continue to do that.”

Democrats, Collins said, should “help us replace a broken healthcare system. Why don’t they come on board and have ideas instead of those kinds of things? Let’s look forward

02/14/17 4:27 PM

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed the White House in late January that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions before Trump took office, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that Trump spent the intervening weeks weighing Flynn’s future.

Spicer said Trump ultimately decided to ask Flynn for his resignation due to a “trust issue.” The White House stood behind the substance of Flynn’s talks with Kislyak, arguing the sanctions discussion was “not a legal issue” and was permitted by law.

Ethics office tells White House to investigate Conway for Ivanka plug

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The ethics office hasn’t seen evidence of any reprimand.

02/14/17 2:25 PM

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