Despite the gravity of the allegations, the White House — which usually does not hesitate to hit back at unfavorable reporting — did not rush to Flynn’s defense on Friday.
After questions were raised last month about Flynn’s phone calls, Vice President Mike Pence had vehemently denied any sanctions talk had taken place. But on Friday, the vice president’s office said Pence had made those comments to CBS News based on Flynn’s own account of the phone calls.
The question now is whether “Flynn will continue to stand by his previous statements and whether the White House will continue to stand by Flynn,” said Susan Hennessey, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked as an attorney in the National Security Agency’s Office of General Counsel.
It is unclear what the leaks might mean for Flynn, who was on hand at the White House for the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. President Trump was not asked about the reports on Flynn during a brief press conference, where he only took two questions from the American press. In theory, Flynn could face potential charges for violating the Logan Act, which bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments on issues affecting the U.S. government, though no one has ever been convicted under the law that dates back to 1799.