The Washington Post ^ | February 9, 2017 | Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima
National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.
Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.
Flynn on Wednesday denied that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Asked in an interview whether he had ever done so, he twice said, “No.”
On Thursday, Flynn, through his spokesman, backed away from the denial. The spokesman said Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
Officials said this week that the FBI is continuing to examine Flynn’s communications with Kislyak. Several officials emphasized that while sanctions were discussed, they did not see evidence that Flynn had an intent to convey an explicit promise to take action after the inauguration.
Flynn’s contacts with the ambassador attracted attention within the Obama administration because of the timing. U.S. intelligence agencies were then concluding that Russia had waged a cyber campaign designed in part to help elect Trump; his senior adviser on national security matters was discussing the potential consequences for Moscow, officials said.
The talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said....
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
The media is having a field day with this one. Here's what confuses me. This is from January 23 and the Washington Post (printed in Chicago Tribune):
FBI finds nothing illicit in Michael Flynn's calls with Russian ambassador
The FBI in late December reviewed intercepts of communications between the Russian ambassador to the United States and retired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn - national security adviser to then-President-elect Donald Trump - but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government, U.S. officials said.
The calls were picked up as part of routine electronic surveillance of Russian officials and agents in the United States, which is one of the FBI's responsibilities, according to the U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss counterintelligence operations.
If the calls were listened to in December, wouldn't they know whether or not he discussed the sanctions? What changed regarding the calls from the time they occurred and the time this article was printed (weeks ago)? The transcripts couldn't have changed.
Also, we have more leaks of course. It sounds like some of these people were with Obama and are gone, but they had an opportunity to say something sooner, so why didn't they?
Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
All of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.
We all know Obama waited until the last minute to put those sanctions on to stick it to Trump and his desire to develop a better relationship with Russia. If what is printed there is all he said, I can't see anything wrong with asking Russia to wait before imposing a response that would be harmful to the U.S. and saying they would review things when Trump got in office.
For the record, the U.S. has not even dropped the sanctions! If he was scheming to do that as soon as Trump got in office, it hasn't happened. You have Nikki Haley out there saying that sanctions will remain in place until Russia is out of Crimea (or as Maxine Waters would say - Korea).
In any regard, the Washington Post says while it could be a violation of the never used Logan Act, it would be hard to prosecute. We have this:
Former U.S. officials also said aggressive enforcement would probably discourage appropriate contact. Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, said that he was in Moscow meeting with officials in the weeks leading up to Obama’s 2008 election win.
“As a former diplomat and U.S. government official, one needs to be able to have contact with foreigners to do one’s job,” McFaul said. McFaul, a Russia scholar, said he was careful never to signal pending policy changes before Obama took office.
Of course it's okay when Obama's people are there prior to the election working on a failed reset. The media wasn't using Russia as the boogey man then.