The national security Advisor, Michael Flynn (as Michael Flynn) privately discussed the anti-Russian US sanctions with the Russian Ambassador in America for a month before the President trump took office, according to former and current officials.
Flynn’s communication with the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak has been hailed by some senior us officials as inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that he could expect the lifting of sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for her alleged interference in the elections of 2016.
Wednesday February 8, Flynn denied that he had discussed with Kislyak sanctions. When in an interview he was asked whether there was a conversation about sanctions, he twice replied, “No.”
Thursday February 9, Flynn refused these words through his press Secretary. He said that Flynn “pointed out that, even though he does not remember discussion of sanctions, he can’t say with certainty that this issue never arose during a conversation”.
Official sources this week reported that the FBI continues to analyze the communication Flynn Kislyak. Several sources pointed out that though sanctions were discussed, there was no evidence that Flynn was going to give you open promises about the beginning of any action after the inauguration.
Flynn contacts with the Russian Ambassador drew the attention of the Obama administration because of the time period in which they occurred. American residentsto did then the conclusion that Russia has cybercommunity, one of whose goals was the election trump; his senior Advisor for national security discussed the potential consequences for Moscow, said the sources.
These negotiations were one of the episodes of communication Flynn and Kislyak that began before the election on 8 November and continued during the interim administration, the sources noted. In a recent interview, Kislyak affirmed that talked to Flynn with the help of SMS-messages, phone and in person, while refusing to say whether you discussed during these conversations sanctions.
Pop-up details contradict the official statements of the new administration of the President, including Mike Pence (Mike Pence), at the time elected Vice President. Administration officials acknowledge only a few SMS and phone calls that Flynn and Kislyak exchanged at the end of last year, and deny that any of them ever raised the subject of sanctions.
“They did not discuss anything related to the US decision to expel the diplomats or the presentation of Russia of claims,” said Penny in an interview with CBS News in January, noting that he spoke with Flynn on this subject. Pence also made a more sweeping statement, saying that members of the trump team were in contact with Russia during the campaign. To assume otherwise, he said, means “to give importance to some strange rumors spreading around the candidacy of trump”.
None of these claims is not warranted after a more complete report about the relationship between Flynn and Kislyak provided by sources who had access to the reports of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies which routinely monitor the contacts of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials who held senior positions in a number of agencies during the period of this communication, on condition of anonymity, agreed to discuss the issue of intelligence.
All sources said that Flynn clearly talked about sanctions related to the election. Two officials indicated that Flynn urged Russia not to take any extraordinary measures in connection with sanctions imposed by President Baraka Obama, explaining that both sides will be able to revisit this issue after the presidential oath trump.
“The dubious impression that the issue of sanctions will be revised in the future,” says the former official.
A third source said without equivocation that any Flynn introduced a Penny astray, or Pens something mixed up. The administration official stressed that the basis of reviews of Pens lay his conversation with Flynn. Then discussed the sanctions still continue to operate.
Pre-inaugural message Flynn Kislyak has caused controversy in the Obama administration and residentsto: violated Flynn law on the intervention of foreign citizens in the Affairs of USA with the foreign governments, say close to these discussions, the sources. Officials were already concerned that it was regarded as a Russian attack on American elections.
U.S. officials said the attempt to bring these allegations to Flynn raises concerns. The law on the interference of American citizens in foreign Affairs, known as the Logan Act, derives from the Statute of 1799, it was never prosecuted. As a result, there is no precedent of history, which would help authorities to decide which cases to prosecute or what to get a conviction.
Sources also talked about political sensitivity. Known Americans in the government and outside it, so often come into contact with foreign officials that the selection of one of them, especially the one tipped for a senior post in the White house, will lead to accusations of political persecution.
Former U.S. officials also said that aggressive action is likely to complicate communication. Michael McFaul (Michael McFaul), who served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia under the Obama administration, said he attended a Moscow meeting with officials on the eve of victory in the election of Obama in 2008.
“As a former diplomat and official of the American government you should have the right to contact foreigners in the workers ‘interests”, — said McFaul. A specialist on Russia, McFaul said he always tried not to mention the pending political changes before Obama took office.
Wednesday 8 Feb Flynn said that he first met with Kislyak in 2013, when Flynn held the post of Director of Intelligence at the Ministry of defence, during his visit to Moscow. Kislyak helped him to make this trip, said Flynn.
Flynn said that he had spoken with Kislyak on a number of topics at the end of December, including the organization of telephone conversation between President Vladimir Putin and trump after the inauguration and expressed his condolences in connection with the murder of the Russian Ambassador in Turkey. “I called to say that he could not believe the murder of their Ambassador,” said Flynn. On the question whether the sanctions mentioned in their conversations Kislyak, Flynn answered in the negative.
Kislyak praised his conversations with Flynn as friendly during a brief interview at a conference in January. “This is a typical diplomatic conversation,” he said.
Kislyak said that he had contact with Flynn before the election, but refused to answer questions about what topics they discussed. Kislyak is known for its persistent treatment of the high-ranking Washington officials, he was sitting in the first row, when the Republican candidate trump has delivered his first big speech on foreign policy in April last year. The Ambassador spoke about how he began his acquaintance with Flynn.
In an interview with CBS Pence said Flynn “I was in contact with diplomatic leaders and heads of security more than 30 countries. This is what should do the future national security adviser”.
The anxiety of officials about how the Flynn Kislyak grew when Putin on 30 December said that Moscow will not take reciprocal steps after the expulsion of 35 people suspected of espionage in favor of Russia, and the closure of the Russian-owned residences in Maryland and new York.
Putin said that he would focus on “the restoration of relations between Russia and the United States” after Obama leaves office, and postponed any response until the city will get an opportunity to assess to assess the policy of trump.
Trump responded with thunderous praise Putin. “A fine move with a delay”, — he said in his publication on Twitter. “I always knew he was smart.”
Putin’s reaction was contrary to long practice, the expulsion of diplomats from both sides. Besides, his statement was made after the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia vowed that Moscow will take retaliatory action against the United States.
Restrained reaction of Putin caught White house officials by surprise, caused some of them suspect that Moscow had promised liberation from the sanctions, this has motivated an investigation into the American residentsthe in search of clues.
“Something happened in those 24 hours” between Obama’s statement and the response by Putin, said the former top official of the United States. Officials began to analyze reports of residents, intercepted conversations and diplomatic communications, and saw evidence that Flynn and Kislyak communicated by SMS and on the phone about interesting their time.
Officials of the interim government of trump confirmed these contacts a few weeks after reporting in the Washington Post, denying the fact of discussing sanctions. Press Secretary of the trump Sean Spicer (Sean Spicer) said on 13 January that Flynn was “associated” with the Russian Ambassador in Christmas, to congratulate him. December 28, once it became known about sanctions of Obama, Kislyak sent Flynn a message asking permission to call. “Flynn took the call,” said Spicer, adding that “the conversation was about the organization of telephone conversation between President of Russia and the [trump] after the election.”
Other officials were categorical. “I can tell you that during this conversation, the sanctions have not been discussed,” said an official of the provisional government Post. When the Pens on TV asking questions that weekend, he said: “the Conversations that took place at a time when the United States took measures for the expulsion of the diplomats had nothing to do with these sanctions.”
Current and former American officials say that that statement is incorrect.
Like trump, Flynn showed sympathy towards Russia, contrary to the views of the majority of his colleagues in military and intelligence circles. Flynn was surprising to the public in 2015, when the pictures where he’s sitting next to Putin at a luxurious celebration in Moscow in honor of the Kremlin-controlled TV channel RT.
In an earlier interview Post Flynn admitted that he was paid through his press service that he gave a speech at the event, and spoke in defense of his presence there, noting that sees no difference between RT and American news channels, including CNN.
Lieutenant General, U.S. army retired, Flynn has participated in the deployment of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, during these trips he carried out a number of important Rasizadeh, in cooperation with the U.S. special forces pursuing members of al-Qaeda and Islamist militants.
His former colleagues said that specialization gave Flynn an opportunity to assess the threat posed by Islamist groups as the main task of security prevailing in particular on the opposition to new Russian aggression. Flynn saw longtime rival of the United States a potential ally in the fight against terrorist groups, and himself — as a person, able to establish closer ties with Russia after a trip to Moscow in 2013 as Director of Intelligence at the Ministry of defence.
Flynn often boasted that he was the first Director of Intelligence, who was invited to the General staff of the Russian military intelligence GRU, although at least one of his predecessors, had received similar visits. “Flynn believed that he established any connection with the head of the GRU,” said a former military official of the United States.
According to the American residents, they connect GRU with the Russian hacking of the mail servers of Committee of the democratic party and accused Moscow of delivering these materials, WikiLeaks is gradually publishing them during the election campaign, to hurt Hillary Clinton, the opponent of the trump of the democratic party.
Flynn was forced to leave his post in the Intelligence in 2014 because of the anxiety associated with his administration crumbling Agency. He became an outspoken critic of the Obama administration before took part in the election campaign last year.
Article written in collaboration with Ellen Nakashima (Ellen Nakashima).