Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Tuesday dismissed the idea that the resignation of President Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, because of his contact with the Russian ambassador will negatively affect America's relationship with NATO allies.
Mattis was taking questions from the media on a flight to a NATO meeting in Brussels when Associated Press reporter Lolita Baldor asked the Pentagon chief if Flynn's sudden departure would hinder his efforts to reassure NATO of the U.S. commitment to the alliance.
"Here's the bottom line, ladies and gentlemen: I am brought in to be the secretary of defense," Mattis said. "Frankly, this has no impact. Obviously. I haven't changed what I am heading there [to the NATO meeting] for. It doesn't change my message at all."
Jim Mattis, flying to NATO today, responds to Mike Flynn's resignation & concern among US allies about Russian influence in American affairs pic.twitter.com/Y1GnkRqFS6
— Andrew deGrandpre (@adegrandpre) February 14, 2017
Flynn resigned on Monday night after he gave "incomplete information" to Vice President Mike Pence about his December phone call with with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. The resignation has caused some lawmakers to call for an investigation into the Trump administration's relationship with the Kremlin.
Previously there had been reports of friction between Mattis and Flynn, both retired generals. Mattis maintained on Tuesday that he will work with whoever is on the president's staff.
Mattis said "it was full speed ahead" with the NATO meeting and that his method is to "listen, learn, help, and lead" with America's North Atlantic Treaty allies.