The whole affair started with text messages between the Russian ambassador to the United States and Flynn. It escalated to incomplete information given to future colleagues and culminated with a scandal that suggested the incoming Administration had been looking to undermine the outgoing team of President Obama. The episode invoked memories of Richard Nixon’s 1968 backchannel conversations with South Vietnam that looked to shape the outcome that November.
At 10:10 p.m. Flynn left the Oval Office after tendering his resignation. He walked briskly as he headed to his office suite on the northwest corner of the West Wing for his final time in this job.
By 11 p.m. the White House was ready to make the news public, distributing a copy of Flynn’s resignation letter, which was the subject of several revisions throughout the evening. He had left the complex by 11:30 p.m.
Flynn’s ouster comes after a tumultuous day of mixed messages emanating from the White House about Flynn.
Earlier Monday anonymous aides traded quotes musing about Flynn’s future. Flynn delivered the presidential daily briefing to Trump in the morning, joined him on calls with foreign leaders and was seated in a prime location at the president’s joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Just after 4 p.m. Monday, Kellyanne Conway assured reporters that “General Flynn does enjoy the full confidence of the president.”
But an hour later things had changed. Spicer noted that "the President is evaluating the situation.” It was yet the latest instance of one West Wing hand not knowing what the other was doing—or if they were doing it on the President’s orders.
“This is what he asked me to communicate to you,” Spicer told reporters, saying his phrasing represented the President’s thinking after a conversation in the Oval Office.
After Spicer released his statement, he huddled briefly with top aides to the Vice President, followed by a conversation with Conway.
On Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department warned the White House last month that Mr. Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador. As a result, the Justice Department feared that Mr. Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.
When he did step down, it happened so quickly that his resignation does not appear to have been communicated to National Security Council staff members, two of whom said they learned about it from news reports.
Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation — a move that he has been pushing for since Friday, when it became clear that the national security adviser had misled Mr. Pence.
Around 8:20 p.m. Monday, a sullen Mr. Flynn was seen in the Oval Office, just as preparations were being made for the swearing-in of newly confirmed Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. Soon after, Mr. Flynn’s resignation letter started making the rounds.