Transcripts Reveal Flynn Didn't Discuss Dropping Sanctions in Calls with Russian Ambassador
Newly released transcripts of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak prove that, contrary to the establishment media’s narrative, Flynn did not discuss dropping sanctions in his multiple conversations with Kislyak during the Trump transition period.
On Friday, recently appointed Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe sent the transcripts to two top Senate Republicans: Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Finance Committee.
This came just a week after Ratcliffe’s predecessor, former acting DNI Richard Grenell, vowed to declassify the conversations.
The transcripts, which contain some redactions, reveal the contents of phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak that took place in December 2016 and January 2017, during the transition from President Barack Obama to President Donald Trump, as well as one exchange that occurred in January 2016.
The conversations consisted of standard diplomatic discussions, with a particular focus on the “strategic goal” shared by the two nations of achieving “stability in the Middle East.”
Kislyak also raised the possibility of inviting the Trump administration to a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, dedicated to advancing the Middle East peace process.
The American public first became aware of one of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak in a January 2017 Washington Post column authored by David Ignatius.
Citing a”senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius argued that “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29,” as the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails.
In his column, Ignatius asked a series of questions implying that Flynn may have “undercut the U.S. sanctions” and violated the Logan Act, which “bars U.S. citizens from correspondence intending to influence a foreign government about ‘disputes’ with the United States.”
The column launched a chain of events that led to the FBI’s interview of Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017.
Nearly a year later, Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements about the contents of his conversations with Kislyak.
The FBI’s interview with Flynn basically amounted to a setup since the bureau had the transcripts of his conversations with Kislyak. Agents already knew the answers to the questions they were asking him, so the purpose of calling the meeting had nothing to do with obtaining information but instead aimed to lay Flynn into a perjury trap.
Flynn’s interview with the FBI has received renewed scrutiny following the release of FBI notes suggesting that agents walked into their meeting with sinister goals:
Unsealed FBI notes reveal the intent of the FBI’s 1/24/17 interview of Flynn:
“What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute [Flynn] or get him fired?”
FBI Notes confirm it was all a pretext. pic.twitter.com/Y4IDyE4YZm
— Techno Fog (@Techno_Fog) April 29, 2020
Ultimately, the agents chose the second option and their plan worked. Trump ended up firing Flynn for misleading his administration about the contents of the phone calls just three weeks after he took office.
Following the release of the aforementioned notes, the Department of Justice announced that it was dropping charges against Flynn.
Unfortunately, Flynn and the DOJ have run into another roadblock in their journey to put the Russia saga behind them: the judge in Flynn’s case.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has a well-documented animus against Flynn, put the DOJ’s bid to dismiss the case against the former national security advisor on hold.
As it turns out, the topic of sanctions came up only once in Flynn’s Dec. 29, 2016, conversation with Kislyak. It was Kislyak who used the word “sanction,” not Flynn.
The retired Army general never discussed removing the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in the phone call.
So, another part of the narrative about the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia has collapsed.
Not surprisingly, the president relished the opportunity to call the media to account over their embrace of the flawed narrative regarding Flynn:
.@CNN doesn’t want to speak about their persecution of General Michael Flynn & why they got the story so wrong. They, along with others, should pay a big price for what they have purposely done to this man & his family. They won’t even cover the big breaking news about this scam!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2020
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald can add the reporting on Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russians to his already lengthy list of the “Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story.”
It remains unlikely that the media will show any remorse for forcing the Russia hoax on the nation anytime soon.
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