[the 1st cracks appear] Trump fires Michael Flynn Jr., son of national security adviser, after phony-news tweets

1:11 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump dropped Michael G. Flynn, the son of designated national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, from his transition staff. Transition officials say the cause for the firing was the younger Flynn’s social media posts, especially his support for the false “pizzagate” conspiracy theory that Democratic operatives were running a child sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant. Flynn, 33, continued to insist the story was true even after police arrested an armed man on Sunday who came to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria and fired at least two rounds, claiming he was there to “self-investigate” the fake story.

Before Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller announced Tuesday morning that Flynn, chief of staff and scheduler for his father, was no longer involved with the transition, Vice President–elect Mike Pence had said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the younger Flynn had “no involvement in the transition whatsoever.” On Tuesday night, CNN’s Jake Tapper repeatedly pressed Pence on why Flynn Jr. had a transition email account and if he’d been aware that the transition team had requested security clearance for the younger Flynn, and Pence called the whole story a “distraction” and insisted that Flynn has just been helping his father schedule meetings.

This appears to be the first time Trump has taken action against a Trump insider who has spread fake news stories. Gen. Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is weathering bipartisan criticism over, among other things, his own promotion of false conspiracy theories, though he has taken to tweeting anodyne messages since Trump’s election. Flynn Jr.’s last post before going silent Monday afternoon was a retweet of a fake-news article claiming the Comet Ping Pong gunman is an actor hired to debunk the fake sex-trafficking story. The younger Flynn had reportedly planned to join his father on Trump’s National Security Council. Peter Weber

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