Michael Flynn's resignation as national security adviser removes an immediate political headache for the White House but will do little to dispel suspicions about his ties with Russia that now threaten to envelop President Donald Trump's nascent administration.
Flynn quit late Monday as controversy raged over revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence -- who then defended him on television -- over whether he discussed US sanctions with Moscow's ambassador to the US before the inauguration. Such a move could be a breach of the law.
On a night of stunning, fast-moving drama, extraordinary even by this White House's elevated standards, Flynn's fate took on a sense of inevitability despite Trump's instinct to retain a loyal aide. By Monday evening, White House press secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement saying Trump was "evaluating the situation." His departure was confirmed hours later. The former general's resignation -- at the start of only the fourth week of the new administration -- is an embarrassment for Trump and a blow to a White House already embroiled in internal political dramas. It deprives Trump, who has no foreign policy experience and a barely formed national security team, of his most important White House adviser charged with keeping Americans safe from foreign threats.
His departure sent shockwaves around the world, raising questions about the administration's readiness to confront any sudden national security crisis. And since Trump frequently boasted that he would install a governing team of the highest caliber, Flynn's fall from grace is certain to raise questions about the judgment of the President himself.