WEST PALM BEACH, Fla./BRUSSELS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump considered his options for a new national security adviser on Monday as his vice president, Mike Pence, said he had been disappointed by the actions of the man ousted from the job and supported his dismissal.
Trump asked for Michael Flynn’s resignation on Feb. 13 after reports emerged that the retired lieutenant general misled Pence about having spoken to Russia’s ambassador about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.
The ouster, coming so early in Trump’s administration, was another upset in a White House that has been battered by miscues, including the controversial roll-out of a travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, since the Republican president took office on Jan. 20.
“I was disappointed to learn that the facts that have been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate,” Pence told reporters during a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Trump’s call for Flynn to go “was the proper decision, it was handled properly and in a timely way,” he said.
Trump, spending the weekend in West Palm Beach, Florida, interviewed four finalists to replace Flynn on Sunday and may meet with some of them again on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Sunday.
Those interviewed were acting adviser Keith Kellogg, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen.
During his Brussels trip, Pence assured the European Union that the Trump administration would develop the bloc’s cooperation in trade and security and backed the EU as a partner in its own right, seeking to soothe anxiety prompted by Trump’s remarks a month ago renewing his endorsement of Brexit and suggesting that others might follow Britain out of the EU.
At the news conference, Pence also defended Trump’s repeated and strong criticisms of the news media. In a Twitter message on Saturday, Trump called the media “the enemy of the American people.”
“The president and I both strongly support a free and independent press but you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts,” Pence said.
Trump himself has been continually cited by various media for misstating facts. For instance, in his news conference last week Trump said his margin of victory in the Electoral College in November was the largest ever since fellow Republican Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and 1984.
In fact, however, Democratic President Barack Obama, in both of his victories, and Republican President George H.W. Bush drew more electoral votes than did Trump. (Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Robert-Jan Bartunek, Alastair Macdonald and Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Leslie Adler)