WASHINGTON - The Justice Department warned the White House weeks ago that national security adviser Michael Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail for contacts with Russian officials before President Donald Trump took power, a US official said on Monday.
Trump is evaluating the situation surrounding Flynn and talking to Vice President Mike Pence about it, Trump's spokesman said, in a pointed refusal to make a public show of support for his embattled aide.
The US official confirmed a Washington Post report that Sally Yates, the then-acting US attorney general, told the White House late last month that she believed Flynn had misled them about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
She said Flynn might have put himself into a compromising position, possibly leaving himself vulnerable to blackmail, the official said. Yates was later fired for opposing Trump's temporary entry ban for people from seven mostly Muslim nations.
Flynn had told Pence he had not discussed US sanctions against Russia with Russian officials in the weeks before Trump took office on Jan. 20, prompting Pence to defend him in subsequent television interviews.
In recent days, Flynn has acknowledged he might have discussed sanctions with the Russians but could not remember with 100 percent certainty, which officials said had upset Pence, who felt he had been misled.