Trump adviser Michael Flynn discussed hacking sanctions with Russian Federation

Alicia WestFeb 14, 2017

'Flynn communicated with high-ranking Russian officials both before and after a presidential election that, according to our intelligence community, Russia actively worked to influence on behalf of Donald Trump.

One of the allegations in the dossier claimed sexual misbehavior. In fact, Flynn said he hadn't discussed Obama's sanctions with Russian Federation as recently as this past Wednesday before starting to walk back his statements on Thursday, saying he had "no recollection" of the specifics of their conversation.

However, Pence has also backtracked, with a spokesman for the vp saying that he based his account on conversations he'd hadwith Flynn. According to USA officials who have reviewed intelligence reports and diplomatic cables, Kislyak requested a phone call with Flynn when news of the impending sanctions began to leak. In an interview last month, Vice President Mike Pence told CBS: "They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russian Federation".

Flynn can not rule out that he spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions, an aide close to the National Security Adviser said Friday. One of the sources said that the rejection was approved by Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies.

Flynn and Kislyak are said to have communicated via text message, phone call, and in person on numerous occasions, and while no explicit guarantee was given that sanctions would be lifted, the calls did leave the impression that it could well be a possibility.

When the Post asked Flynn on Wednesday if he ever discussed sanctions with Kislyak, he said no. At the most, well, I'll leave that to your imagination - but suffice to say it's not good. The Logan Act, an obscure 1799 statute, makes it illegal for civilians to negotiate with foreign government in disputes involving the USA government.

The upshot of stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times is the same: They say Michael Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, despite his denials.

Mr Pence was strident in his defence of Mr Flynn when he appeared on CBS's Face the Nation last month.

That said, the president should without a doubt sack Flynn.

Pressed by the show's host, John Dickerson, Pence added that "those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions", and that "I don't believe there were more conversations".

White House officials have denied that any impropriety took place during the phone calls.

Flynn's attitude to Russia specifically has attracted criticism from some Democrats and Republicans, in particular a 2015 trip to Moscow to speak at an anniversary conference for the Russian propaganda network, Russia Today, where he dined at a table with Putin. Now Flynn is backtracking on his version of events, saying he can not rule out having spoken about sanctions in his talk with the Russian ambassador, according to an aide to Flynn. But repeated contacts just as Obama was imposing sanctions raise questions about whether Trump's team discussed - or even helped shape - Russia's response.

That runs directly counter to the information The Post gathered from nine (!) intelligence officials who were granted anonymity to speak candidly.

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