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Tag: russia sanctions

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

UN General Assembly Suspends Russia From Human Rights Council

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from its 47-- member Human Rights Council amid widespread reports of war crimes in Ukraine. The vote was 93 to 24 with 58 nations – including China India, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates – abstaining.

The body expressed “grave concern” over Russia's “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights," according to The Washington Post.

Russian troops are facing accusations of brutally massacring civilians, particularly in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, where hundreds of victims have been found shot in the head with their hands bound behind their backs. In some instances, piles of corpses were burned or dumped into mass graves as if to cover up the atrocities.

Russia's Deputy United Nations Ambassador, Gennady Kuzmin, said that the move was “an attempt by the US to maintain its domination and total control” and to “use human rights colonialism in international relations.” Kuzmin maintained that the allegations are “based on staged events and widely circulated fakes.”

The Russian delegation on Wednesday had threatened to retaliate against nations that vote to boot it from the HRC.

"It is worth mentioning that not only support for such an initiative, but also an equidistant position in the vote (abstention or non -- participation) will be considered as an unfriendly gesture," the note read, according to reporting by Reuters. "In addition, the position of each country will be taken into account both in the development of bilateral relations and in the work on the issues important for it within the framework of the UN."

Russia's bluster notwithstanding, the evidence is mounting that Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces are intentionally unleashing hell onto the Ukrainian population.

In addition to the flood of photographic and video documentation that has circulated on social media and international news outlets, "Germany’s foreign intelligence service claims to have intercepted radio communications in which Russian soldiers discuss indiscriminate killings in Ukraine," the Post reported. "In two communications, Russian troops described how they question soldiers as well as civilians, and proceed to shoot them, according to an intelligence official familiar with the findings who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity."

Last month, the HRC established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate Russia's genocidal actions in Ukraine. On Saturday, ex -- United Nations prosecutor Carla Del Ponte called for Putin to be arrested and tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Joe Biden has for weeks designated Putin as a war criminal. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to strip Russia of its preferential trade status and ban imports of its oil and natural gas.

Printed with permission from Alternet.

Fox News And Vladimir Putin Recycling Propaganda In Feedback Loop

Throughout former President Donald Trump’s term in office, Media Matters carefully documented a phenomenon we defined as the “Trump-Fox feedback loop,” in which the right-wing propaganda network’s programming inspired over 1,000 tweets from its most important viewer, steering his obsessions and political talking points. That phenomenon came to an end when Trump lost his Twitter account after waging a literal assault on American democracy — which Fox also prodded him to do — but it has now been replaced by a new version, in which Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s talking points excusing his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine have come to resemble Fox’s own coverage of the assault.

In a real-life illustration of the Putin-Fox feedback loop, a recently reported memo from the Russian government directed the country’s media outlets to promote as many clips of Fox News star Tucker Carlson as possible, as the regime’s propaganda and Carlson’s own rhetoric have dovetailed almost perfectly.

Media Matters documented Wednesday that Putin’s denunciation of what he called “national traitors,” Russians who live supposedly elitist lifestyles that put them out of touch with the Russian nation, was remarkably similar to Tucker Carlson’s fake populism. (Putin's use of “national traitors” is co-opted Stalinist language, which he has used in the past.) Carlson was born into wealth and privilege, while Putin is reportedly one of the richest men on Earth and lives like a king.

Putin’s speech Wednesday seemingly contained another example of the confluence of Kremlin and Fox News talking points, when he attempted to directly address any potential Western audience, telling them that they should not blame Russia for the global economic consequences of sanctions stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Instead, according to Putin, they should blame their own governments for the negative side effects of international sanctions. He also urged his audience to view the sanctions themselves as part of an effort to distract from the harms already being done in their home countries by their own governments and ruling “elites.”

All of these accusations have had antecedents on Fox News programming, from prime-time front man Tucker Carlson as well as other network hosts.

VLADIMIR PUTIN: For us, it is also obvious that the Western patrons are simply pushing the Kyiv authorities to continue the bloodshed. They are supplying them with new shipments of weapons and intelligence. They are providing other assistance, including the sending of military advisers and mercenaries.

In terms of weapons, they have chosen economic, financial, trade, and other sanctions in relation to Russia, which are hitting Americans and Europeans themselves in the form of rising prices for gasoline, energy, foodstuffs, and employment losses associated with the Russian market. We shouldn’t do, what is called, shift the problem from a sore head to a healthy one, and blame our country for everything.

I want ordinary citizens of Western governments to hear me, as well. They are now persistently trying to convince you that all your difficulties are the result of some hostile actions of Russia. That from your wallet you need to pay for the fight against the mythical Russian threat. It’s all a lie.

And the truth is that the current problems faced by millions of people in the West are the result of many years of actions by the ruling elites in their governments. Their mistakes, short-sightedness, and ambitions. These elites are not thinking about how to improve the lives of their citizens in Western countries, they are obsessed with their selfish interests and excess profits.
(Translated by Media Matters from Russian state TV)

A person can easily go through Putin’s talking points in the order he delivered them above and notice how well they match up with Fox News programming over the last few weeks:

“Western patrons are simply pushing the Kyiv authorities to continue the bloodshed”

  • On the March 15 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host suggested that providing weapons to Ukrainians in their resistance to Russia’s invasion might simply “prolong the fighting in Ukraine at the expense of the vulnerable civilian population in Ukraine,” declaring that such an act “would be cruel.”

“Sanctions … are hitting Americans and Europeans themselves”

  • On the March 11 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host specifically attacked the Biden administration’s ban on Russian oil, as well as its overall response to the invasion, as “the single most damaging thing any American president has ever done to this country and to the world. Not to Putin, to us.”

“Rising prices for gasoline, energy”

  • Multiple Fox News personalities attacked President Joe Biden for banning Russian oil, accusing him of deliberately wanting to raise gasoline prices on American consumers — after those same Fox commentators had previously attacked Biden for not placing sanctions on Russian oil, branding it an act of moral cowardice.
  • Fox News hosts then pivoted to accusing Biden of using the sanctions to divert the blame for high gas prices away from himself, and to make Putin into his “fall guy.”

“Problems faced by millions of people in the West”

  • On the February 28 edition of The Faulkner Focus, Fox host Pete Hegseth minimized the importance of the ongoing war in Ukraine in comparison to problems at home in America: “I was at CPAC this weekend talking to conservatives and young people, and they said yes, what is happening in Ukraine is important. But it pales in comparison to the crime I see in my streets, to the wokeness I see in my culture, to the inflation I see at my pocket book, to the real border I care about, which is the southern border, which is wide open. On every single issue, the quality of life of average Americans has gone down.”
  • On the February 18 edition of Jesse Watters Primetime, shortly before the war began, the host complained that “you know how the news cycle moves, you'll hear ‘Ukraine’ and then, once the bombs start dropping, you'll never hear about inflation, CRT, the open border, crime, anything.”

“These elites ... are obsessed with their selfish interests and excess profits”

  • On the March 15 edition of Jesse Watters Primetime, the host wondered whether Russia’s war was instead “engineered as a distraction” by the Biden administration, to distract from any scandals surrounding the president’s son Hunter Biden.
  • On the March 11 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host also put forward the idea that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was really the product of a conspiracy by American elites to keep their own power: “At exactly the moment when the emergency powers they awarded to themselves to fight COVID started to wane, our leaders began pushing for conflict with Russia.”
  • On the February 22 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, just before the war began, Carlson alleged that the coming sanctions on Russian energy were really a plot to benefit Democratic donors: “Maybe they're not against rising oil and gas prices. Maybe they are for them. Maybe expensive energy would be good for the many renewable deals their friends and donors are invested in.”
  • And on February 16, when Russia had been putting its troops in position to attack Ukraine, Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo repeatedly claimed that the entire Russian threat against Ukraine was really an elaborate hoax by the U.S. State Department, in order to distract from supposed scandals related to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Clarification (3/18/22): This piece has been updated for clarity.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Biden Unveils Harsher Sanctions To Turn Putin Into A Global 'Pariah'

Washington (AFP) - US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced "severe" economic sanctions to make President Vladimir Putin a "pariah" for invading Ukraine, but conceded there was a lack of Western unity for enacting an even tougher measure.

In a speech from the White House, Biden said four more banks -- including the two biggest, Sberbank & VTB -- would be hit with sanctions by Western sanctions. In addition, export controls slapped on sensitive components will "cut off more than half of Russia's high-tech imports."

"This is going to impose severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time," Biden said.

Those measures, on top of a raft of other sanctions already announced this week, will make Putin "a pariah on the international stage," Biden said.

"Any nation that countenances Russia's naked aggression against Ukraine will be stained by association," he said.

Biden confirmed that for now there was no attempt to put sanctions directly on Putin, who is widely reported to have amassed a huge, secret fortune during his two decades in power.

He also said that a much talked about move to cut Russia from the SWIFT international payments system -- essentially crippling its banking sector -- was not happening.

Ukraine pleaded for yanking Russia from SWIFT on Thursday, but Biden said that the Western coalition could not come to an agreement.

"It is always an option but right now that's not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take," he said.

G7 Closes Ranks

Biden spoke to the nation after having attended a virtual, closed-door meeting which lasted an hour and 10 minutes with the Group of Seven.

The group of rich Western democracies -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- said it was standing firm against Russia's "threat to the rules-based international order."

Biden tweeted that G7 leaders "agreed to move forward on devastating packages of sanctions and other economic measures to hold Russia to account. We stand with the brave people of Ukraine."

In a joint statement, the seven industrial powers also said they were "ready to act" to minimize disruptions to world energy markets as a result of Moscow's assault on Ukraine and with sanctions already targeting a major pipeline from heavyweight energy producer Russia.

In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was freezing the UK assets of Russian titans in banking and arms manufacturing, sanctioning five more oligarchs, and banning Aeroflot.

And Germany's vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, signalled Thursday that the Western sanctions aimed to "cut off the Russian economy from industrial progress (and) dramatically limit access to the European and American markets."

The Next Step

A first round of Western sanctions was unleashed Tuesday, after Putin announced he would send troops as "peacekeepers" to two small areas already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

The US government joined European allies in imposing sanctions on two Russian banks, Moscow's sovereign debt, several oligarchs and other measures.

Then on Wednesday, as the Russian invasion force became clearly primed to attack, Biden announced he was imposing sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany -- one of Moscow's highest-profile geopolitical projects.

Germany had earlier announced it would block the pipeline from opening for deliveries.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price warned this week that "no Russian financial institution is safe."

But there are limitations to what Western countries can do at a time when the world is emerging from the Covid pandemic.

Energy and other big Russian sectors are for now considered off limits for sanctions. Even so, oil prices are soaring at over $100 a barrel -- a surge that will hurt Western political leaders as voters feel pain at filling stations.

The United States is "not going to do anything which causes an unintended disruption to the flow of energy as the global economic recovery is still underway," said deputy national security advisor, Daleep Singh.

The SWIFT option in particular is seen as problematic. It would at least for some time disconnect Russia from basic commerce -- hugely disrupting Putin's economy -- but it would also carry considerable potential aftershocks to the wider, US-led financial system.

Another weakness to the sanctions strategy is that Putin has prepared to ride out any financial storms, at least temporarily.

Still, Singh said that Russia's government is facing "strategic failure."

"You will begin to see a chilling effect in Russia," he told reporters, calling Thursday's sanctions "the most consequential ever levied on Russia and arguably the most consequential ever levied in history."

Biden Announces Initial Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine Incursion

Washington (AFP) - President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced sanctions against Russian banks and the country's wealthy elite after what he said was Moscow's launching of an invasion against Ukraine.

"This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine," Biden said in a televised speech at the White House.

Biden stressed that the measures were only a "first tranche" in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin "carving out a big chunk of Ukraine."

Biden said that more sanctions will follow if Putin extends Russia's military grip beyond two territories in the eastern Donbas region that are already under control of Russian-backed separatists.

Putin announced Monday that he has recognized the independence of both areas and said the Russian military would mount a so-called "peacekeeping" mission in the territories.

"He's setting up a rationale to go much further," Biden said.

The first round of sanctions targeted Russia's sovereign debt, cutting "off Russia's government from Western financing," Biden said. Also targeted are two banks and specific members of the Russian "elites," he added.

Biden said the United States will continue to send "defensive" weapons to Ukraine's military but underscored there was "still time" for diplomacy and "to avert the worst case scenario."

Biden's tough approach followed an initially more hesitant US response to Putin's recognition of the two rebel-held enclaves in Ukraine on Monday.

For weeks, the United States and its allies have said that a full invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces massing on its ex-Soviet neighbor's borders would trigger devastating economic sanctions.

But with doubts continuing over Putin's ultimate intentions after a speech he delivered Monday, it took hours for the Biden administration to shift to a harsher tone.

Biden announced limited sanctions against the two separatist enclaves, which already have next to no dealings with the United States. And in the first public comments from the administration after Putin's geopolitical bombshell, a US official said merely that "we are going to assess what Russia's done."

The official stressed that Russian forces have already been deployed covertly in the separatist areas of Donbas for eight years. "Russian troops moving into Donbas would not be a new step," the official said.

Only later that evening did the White House signal it was moving toward a tougher response.

Beyond Nord Stream 2

Putin's move has sparked intense phone diplomacy between Washington, European capitals, and Ukraine, as the United States tries to maintain unity among dozens of partners over how to respond to Russia, which supplies much of the European Union's energy needs.

Earlier Tuesday, the White House welcomed Germany's decision to halt the mammoth Nord Stream 2 pipeline project meant to deliver Russian natural gas to Europe. The pipeline was vital to Russia's commercial and geo-strategic goals.

Biden "made clear that if Russia invaded Ukraine, we would act with Germany to ensure Nord Stream 2 does not move forward... We will be following up with our own measures today," Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted.

After announcing he was stopping the near-completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned Russia that "there are also other sanctions that we can introduce if further measures are taken."

On Friday, the deputy US national security advisor for international economics, Daleep Singh, warned that the full set of sanctions under preparation would turn Russia into an international "pariah."

Senate Nearing Bipartisan Agreement To Sanction Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. senators are very close to reaching a deal on legislation to sanction Russia over its actions on Ukraine, the two senators working on the bill said on Sunday.

Senators Bob Menendez and James Risch, the chairman and top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said they were going to move forward on the bill this week.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Flynn Drama Has All The Intrigue Of A Russian Spy Thriller

If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they’d read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration. My favorite Westlake novel is “Bank Shot,” in which a gang conspires to steal a temporary bank building by towing it off with a truck, only to confront the reality—oops!—that Long Island is indeed an island, and they can’t haul the thing to the upstate boondocks without encountering police road blocks.

That’s when things get complicated.

Well, things have suddenly gotten complicated for the Trump White House and its timid enablers among congressional Republicans.

Let’s put it this way: the simplest explanation that fits the facts could be that President Trump encouraged national security adviser Michael Flynn to sweet-talk the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions imposed by President Obama for interfering in our presidential election, and then urged him to brazen it out when word of their improper conversations leaked to the press.

Trump, see, would likely have been ignorant of the fact—as he’s ignorant of so much—that NSA would monitor the calls and that their contents would alarm intelligence professionals. Assuming minimal competence, Gen. Flynn—the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency—surely knew that the Russian ambassador’s phone conversations were intercepted. But he may have assumed that the president could protect him. Indeed, until the Washington Post put well-sourced accounts of those conversations on the front page, it appeared that the White House would brazen it out.

Minimal competence is probably all that should ever have been expected of Flynn, who was sacked from the DIA job due to managerial bungling and a fondness for conspiracy theories.

Seriously, didn’t it make you a little uneasy to know that the genius advising our impulsive Commander-in-Chief subscribed to the “Comet Pizza” conspiracy—the idea that Hillary Clinton ran pedophile orgies in the basement of a Washington pizza joint that doesn’t even have one?

“Lock her up!” the general chanted at Trump rallies.

Seriously. I wouldn’t trust the guy to walk my dogs. But that’s just me.

A Democratic president that appointed an aide whose previous job was starring on a Russian propaganda TV network…

Republicans would squawk like a tree full of screech owls.

Meanwhile, Flynn’s not the first, and he’ll surely be far from the last to learn that Trump’s insistence upon personal loyalty is a one-way street. The president appears to recognize little difference between running the White House and running scams in the cutthroat New York real estate game.

But this ain’t real estate or reality TV. Trump’s foolhardy bravado is catching up with him fast. Maybe he and Flynn also assumed that if push came to shove, Vice President Mike Pence could be rolled.

And maybe he could have been. That is until then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates told the White House that she feared that “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled.

The vice president would be an odd politician indeed if the phrase “President Mike Pence” didn’t occur to him then. Yates, along with director of national intelligence James Clapper and CIA director John Brennan, warned that Flynn had exposed himself to Kremlin blackmail.

On CNN, the ubiquitous David Gergen, who has worked for four presidents, said “It’s unimaginable that the White House general counsel would sit on it (and) not tell anybody else in the White House. In every White House I’ve ever been in, this would go to the president like that,” he said, snapping his fingers.

Meanwhile, Trump fired not Flynn, but Sally Yates.

On Feb. 13, Kellyanne Conway told reporters Gen. Flynn had the president’s complete confidence. Early on Feb. 14 news shows, she clung fiercely to the fiction that the White House had been kept in the dark. By noon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer assured reporters that Trump had been all over the situation for weeks, and had demanded Flynn’s resignation.

The collective incompetence is a wonder to behold.

Leave it to Sen. John McCain to describe the “troubling … dysfunction of the current national security apparatus.” He added that the whole farcical episode “raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia, including statements by the President suggesting moral equivalence between the United States and Russia despite its invasion of Ukraine, annexation of Crimea, threats to our NATO allies, and attempted interference in American elections.”

In terms our Queens president would understand, Trump appears to have put his withered testicles right into Vladimir Putin’s muscular hand. Also into FBI director James Comey’s who may feel the need to regain his forfeit honor.

Do you suppose Flynn told FBI investigators the truth about his Russian contacts while he was lying to the vice president?

And if not, then what?

This ain’t real estate now.

IMAGE: National security adviser General Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

U.S. Lawmakers Seek Deeper Probe Into Flynn’s Russia Ties

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers, including some leading Republicans, called on Tuesday for a deeper inquiry into White House ties to Russia, after national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced out in President Donald Trump’s biggest staff upheaval so far.

Flynn quit on Monday after only three weeks in the job amid revelations that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Moscow’s ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, in a potentially illegal action, and had later misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Trump asked for the former Army lieutenant general’s resignation and Flynn offered it to him, a senior White House official said.

His departure was another drama for an administration already repeatedly distracted by miscues and internal dramas since the Republican president took office on Jan. 20.

Transcripts of intercepted communications, described by U.S. officials, showed that the issue of U.S. sanctions came up in conversations between Flynn and the ambassador in late December.

The conversations took place around the time that then-President Barack Obama was imposing sanctions on Russia after charging that Moscow had used cyber attacks to try to influence the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

Flynn, a former U.S. intelligence official, quit hours after a report saying the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks ago that he could be vulnerable to blackmail over his conversations with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

Democrats, who do not have control of Congress, clamored for more action over Flynn, and asked how much Trump knew about his connections to Russia.

“The American people deserve to know at whose direction Gen. Flynn was acting when he made these calls, and why the White House waited until these reports were public to take action,” Democrat Mark Warner, the Senate intelligence committee’s vice chairman, said in a statement.

Two leading Republicans in the Senate, Bob Corker and John Cornyn, also said the intelligence committee should investigate Flynn’s contacts with Russia and that he may need to testify.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt, a member of the same committee, told a St. Louis radio station that the panel should interview Flynn “very soon” as part of its investigation into attempts by Russia to influence the U.S. election.

But the highest-ranking Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, sidestepped questions about whether lawmakers should look into Flynn’s Russia ties, adding he would leave it to the Trump administration to explain the circumstances behind Flynn’s departure.

Democratic Senator Chris Coons asked why Flynn was allowed to remain in his post for so long after the White House was warned of the potential for blackmail.

“This isn’t just about what happened with General Flynn,” Coons told MSNBC. “What did President Trump know? What did the president know and when did he know it?” Coons said, echoing a question made famous by the Watergate scandal, which forced President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974.

Flynn, an early and enthusiastic supporter of Trump, was a strong advocate of a softer line toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his departure from the key post could hinder Trump’s efforts to warm up relations with Moscow.

“General Flynn’s resignation also raises further questions about the Trump administration’s intentions toward Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” said Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign relations.

LEAKS WORRY TRUMP

The Washington Post reported last week that the issue of sanctions came up in the conversations with the ambassador, although Flynn told Pence they had not.

In his first public comment about the Flynn issue since the resignation, Trump deflected the focus to leaks from his administration. “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N.Korea etc?” he wrote on Twitter.

In his resignation letter, Flynn acknowledged he had “inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”

A U.S. official familiar with the transcripts of the calls with Kislyak said Flynn indicated that if Russia did not retaliate in kind for Obama’s Dec. 29 order expelling 35 Russian suspected spies and sanctioning of Russian spy agencies, that restraint could smooth the way toward a broader discussion of improving U.S.-Russian relations once Trump took power.

To the surprise of some observers at the time, Putin did not take retaliatory measures. Trump praised his restraint.

Despite Trump’s attempts to improve relations with Putin, The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Russia has deployed a new cruise missile in the face of complaints by U.S. officials that it violates an arms control treaty banning ground-based U.S. and Russian intermediate-range missiles.

Flynn’s discussions with the Russian diplomat could potentially have been in violation of a law known as the Logan Act, banning private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments about disputes or controversies with the United States. However, nobody has been prosecuted in modern times under the law, which dates from 1799.

Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who served under Defense Secretary James Mattis, is the leading candidate to replace Flynn, two U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The scramble to replace Flynn began on Monday evening and continued with phone calls and meetings into the early hours of Tuesday in an effort to enable Trump to make a decision and put the matter behind him as soon as possible, said an official involved in the effort.

Also under consideration was retired General David Petraeus, a former CIA director whose reputation was tainted by a scandal over mishandling classified information with his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell, John Walcott, Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

IMAGE: White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria