Donald Trump's adviser discussed sanctions with Russian envoy

Andrew Cummings
February 11, 2017

Several current and former USA officials say National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussed new sanctions imposed on Russian Federation by the Obama administration during conversations with that country's ambassador in December. Nine anonymous current and former USA officials told the newspaper that Flynn explicitly mentioned to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak the sanctions imposed by the US due to Russian cyber attacks during the 2016 election.

The Post explained that "Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior USA officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin".

Trump defended Vladimir Putin this week after a Fox News reporter called the Russian president "a killer". "That was it. Plain and simple".

After the discussions, Flynn left the Russian with "the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time", the paper said.

The Washington Post reports White House national security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.

A second administration official says Pence was relying on information from Flynn when he denied sanctions were raised. After the expulsions, the Kremlin unusually declined a tit-for-tat response, instead inviting American diplomats in Moscow to a children's Christmas party. That may be illegal, and to make matters worse, it contradicts denials made by senior members of the Trump administration, including Vice-President Mike Pence. 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".

According to the Post, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining Flynn's communications with Kislyak.

Third, a whole lot of people - "current and former USA officials" - don't like him very much. Kislyak has confirmed he communicated with Flynn via text message, by phone, and in person, but would not say if they talked about sanctions. Officials stressed last month that there was no determination of any wrongdoing. His spokesman later said he didn't recall and it was possible he did, according to the Post. The officials said the discussion was unambiguous and highly inappropriate since Flynn was a civilian at the time of the discussion. The Logan Act, an obscure 1799 statute, makes it illegal for civilians to negotiate with foreign government in disputes involving the USA government. The Obama administration imposed sanctions before leaving office to punish Russian Federation for using hackers to interfere in the USA presidential election.

Flynn is the first White House insider whose communications are known to be under scrutiny by USA counterintelligence agents, from the Central Intelligence Agency and elsewhere, looking into contacts between Russian government members and Trump's close circle. Officials said, however, that it may be hard to prosecute 1) it could be argued Flynn's statement was not an outright promise, and 2) nobody has actually ever been charged with it in the more than 200 years the law has been on the books.

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