NPR's National Security Correspondent Mary Louise Kelly said she had spoken to a White House official on Wednesday, who succinctly described a scene of chaos. "I just reached somebody inside the White House today and asked them to describe, what's the mood like in there? What's going on in the halls?" " Kelly told the NPR Politics Podcast. "And this official said, it is an absolute effing trainwreck"
Ms Kelly also described "a lot of empty desks in the basement of the West Wing," which is where senior members of the National Security Council usually reside, after many abandoned their roles after clashing with the Trump administration.
Citing her sources, Ms Kelly said nobody was sure who was “steering the ship” anymore, and added the White House was, “to put it charitably, in upheaval”.
Mr Flynn handed in his resignation earlier in the week, amid mounting controversy over his interaction with Russian officials. Senior staff in Mr Trump’s team were told a month ago by the acting US attorney general they feared the falsehoods made him vulnerable to potential blackmail from Moscow, but the administration took weeks to act.
Ms Kelly said the National Security Council was already adjusting to major changes before the scandal erupted, destabilising it further.
When Mr Trump took office a lot of security staff who were on loan to the council chose to return to their home agencies rather than work for the new president. In addition, Mr Trump made several new appointments including the new department heads.
Mr Flynn's resignation, just weeks after he took on the role, has propelled the department into a state of chaos.
"There’s huge upheaval," Ms Kelly said. "There are literally a lot of empty desks in the basement of the West Wing, which is where the NSC is camped out."
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
1/9 Trump and the media
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing
2/9 Trump and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Union leaders applaud US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington DC. Mr Trump issued a presidential memorandum in January announcing that the US would withdraw from the trade deal
3/9 Trump and the Mexico wall
A US Border Patrol vehicle sits waiting for illegal immigrants at a fence opening near the US-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. The number of incoming immigrants has surged ahead of the upcoming Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. A signature campaign promise, Mr Trump outlined his intention to build a border wall on the US-Mexico border days after taking office
4/9 Trump and abortion
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House. Mr Trump reinstated a ban on American financial aide being granted to non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling, provide abortion referrals, or advocate for abortion access outside of the United States
5/9 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York. US President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation
6/9 Trump and 'Obamacare'
Nancy Pelosi who is the minority leader of the House of Representatives speaks beside House Democrats at an event to protect the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles, California. US President Donald Trump's effort to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace the healthcare law failed when Republicans failed to get enough votes. Mr Trump has promised to revisit the matter
7/9 Donald Trump and 'sanctuary cities'
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January threatening to pull funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" if they do not comply with federal immigration law
8/9 Trump and the travel ban
US President Donald Trump has attempted twice to restrict travel into the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries. The first attempt, in February, was met with swift opposition from protesters who flocked to airports around the country. That travel ban was later blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The second ban was blocked by a federal judge a day before it was scheduled to be implemented in mid-March
SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images
9/9 Trump and climate change
US President Donald Trump sought to dismantle several of his predecessor's actions on climate change in March. His order instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate the Clean Power Plan, which would cap power plant emissions
She said it was difficult to overstate the importance of the role Mr Flynn had occupied, and questioned if the President could possibly have been prepared for his meeting on Wednesday with the Israeli Prime Minister, under the circumstances.
"Who briefed the President before this meeting today?" she said, referring to the gap left by Flynn. "Benyamin Netanyahu was walking into a White House that, to put it charitably, was in upheaval.
"The National Security Adviser's job is to bring together all the different points of view, coming from all the bureaucracies around Washington, and brief the president with this detailed thoughtful process so the US goes into a meeting knowing what they're trying to get out of it.
"Is this process happening? There’s an acting security adviser who has been there for all of 30 hours at this point..." she said.
The staff who remain in the NSC appear to be trying to get on with their jobs she said, but it was difficult without leadership.
Senator John McCain has also voiced concerns about the NSC. Speaking to NPR's Congress correspondent, he said: “You’ve got to go through a regular process of decision making and that’s what they’re not doing.
"...Who’s making the decisions in the White House? Is it the 31-year old [adviser Stephen Miller]? Is it Mr Bannon? The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff?... I don’t know."Reuse content