Michael Flynn resigned as US President Donald Trump's national security adviser on Monday following reports that he had misled top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US, in which he discussed the lifting of US sanctions on Russia.
Flynn has become the first core member of the Trump team to quit. The national security adviser is an influential post in the US, and Henry Kissinger used to serve this role. Flynn is considered pro-Russia. He sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at an anniversary celebration of Russia Today, a television network, in 2015.
Flynn's resignation due to his links to Russia is a new blow to Trump's team. Trump's Muslim ban was temporarily halted by a federal judge, and a federal appeals panel rejected his bid to reinstate the ban, a sweeping rebuke of the Trump administration. Flynn's resignation is another rebuke and can be seen as a warning against Trump's Russia-loving penchant.
Information within the White House has constantly been leaked, perhaps including conversations between Flynn and the Russian ambassador. This seems to indicate that Trump and his team are positioned in an adversarial environment.
Flynn's resignation shows the difficulties that the Trump administration faces to reset Washington-Moscow ties. The hostile atmosphere between the two countries may be eased, but concrete results, such as the lifting of US sanctions and signing of important agreements, may not come easily.
A few weeks since assuming office, he has gradually leaned towards previous US foreign policies. His past aberrant stance has taken a step back. For instance, after North Korea's missile launch on Sunday, the White House showed rare restraint.
Before assuming the presidency, Trump expressed bold support to Israel and vowed to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But in recent phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he seemed to hold back.
Many predicted that Trump couldn't prevail over the pro-establishment camp. It appears the predictions came true. Conflicts between a US president and the system are unprecedented.
In April, the White House Correspondents' Dinner, an annual event where the president and the media gather together and share light moments, will be held as planned, the first under Trump's presidency. But some US journalists will reportedly boycott the banquet. If that happens, it will be embarrassing for Trump.
Trump can't be a dominating president. His support is the lowest among new presidents, and the pro-establishment camp completely opposes him. Despite his confidence and resolve, he will have to pay the costs, more than his predecessors, to push forward his policies.
Leaders need to establish their authority, and the same is true in the US. Flynn's resignation eroded Trump's authority as president. His presidency is off to a rough start.