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White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the abrupt resignation of Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was “based on a trust issue” – not a legal one – as questions swirl about the retired general’s contact with a Russian ambassador.

“The issue, pure and simple, came down to a matter of trust,” Mr Spicer said. He added that the White House had been aware of the situation for several weeks and had asked for advice from White House counsel on whether it was legal – which, according to Mr Spicer, Mr Trump was advised that it was.

Mr Spicer said that Mr Trump asked for Mr Flynn’s resignation, which was tendered last night, and that Mr Trump had not authorised Mr Flynn to discuss sanctions with his Russian contact.

Some have questioned whether Mr Flynn’s contacts may have violated the Logan Act, an obscure law that bans private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in relation to disputes with the US.

The resignation has touched off a fresh round of questions about the administration’s ties to Russia, and reporters grilled Mr Spicer during the daily White House press briefing on when, and to what extent, Mr Trump became aware of Mr Flynn’s conversations.

Mr Spicer said that the administration is considering a group of potential successors to Mr Flynn, who held his position for just a few weeks.

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