U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Monday he was “disappointed” to learn ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had lied to him about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in Washington, stressing that he supported President Donald Trump’s decision to fire Flynn from the strategic White House post.
Pence, during a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, said, “It was the proper decision, it was handled properly and in a timely way.”
WATCH: Pence on Flynn
Trump asked Flynn, a former Army general, to resign because he misled Pence about phone conversations he had with the ambassador before the new administration assumed power a month ago, with Trump saying last week that Flynn’s conduct was unacceptable.
Trump’s chief of staff says the person selected to be the next national security adviser will have full authority over staffing decisions for the National Security Council (NSC).
That issue over control was reportedly one reason former Navy admiral Robert Harward turned down the job last week.
“The president has said very clearly that the new director will have total and complete say over the makeup of the NSC and all of the components of the NSC,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on FOX News Sunday.
Harward was Trump’s first choice to replace Flynn, who was ousted after just 24 days on the job.
Trump interviewed four candidates for the position Sunday. The White House said he was discussing the job with acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg, a retired Army general; John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army General H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, General Robert Caslen.
A White House spokesman said the president may interview additional candidates.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday the turmoil surrounding the key position has made U.S. national security operations “dysfunctional.”
“What happens if there’s a major crisis that faces this country?” Panetta said. “If Russia engages in a provocation, if Iran does something stupid, if North Korea does something stupid and we have to respond, where is the structure to be able to evaluate that threat, consider it, and provide options to the president?”
“Right now, that’s dysfunctional, and that’s what worries me a great deal,” said Panetta, who also once served as director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.