Friday, February 10, 2017

Despite Denials, Flynn Discussed Sanctions with Russian Ambassador

Thankfully, a discussion of Trump/Pence collusion with Russia is back in the news and perhaps the media will get back on the scent of finding out (i) how much the Trump campaign interacted with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election, and (ii) what dirt/blackmail materials Putin has on Trump or secret business dealings Trump has in Russia.  The vehicle of this renewed interest?  Nutcase national security adviser Michael Flynn who, despite repeated denials, did in fact talk to Russia before Trump took office about reducing sanctions against Russia.  If there is one constant theme with the Trump/Pence regime, it is constant lying.  Trump's dishonesty should surprise no one.  The same holds for Pence, a dyed in the wool Christofascist.  From 20 years of monitoring Christofascists, no group in America lies more often or more consistently.  The Washington Post looks at the revelations.  Here are highlights:
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.”
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. 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. In a recent interview, Kislyak confirmed that he had communicated with Flynn by text message, by phone and in person, but declined to say whether they had discussed sanctions.
The emerging details contradict public statements by incoming senior administration officials including Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect. They acknowledged only a handful of text messages and calls exchanged between Flynn and Kislyak late last year and denied that either ever raised the subject of sanctions.
“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. 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.
“Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” said a former official.
Kislyak said that he had been in contact with Flynn since before the election, but declined to answer questions about the subjects they discussed. Kislyak is known for his assiduous cultivation of high-level officials in Washington and was seated in the front row of then-GOP candidate Trump’s first major foreign policy speech in April of last year. The ambassador would not discuss the origin of his relationship with Flynn. Putin’s muted response — which took White House officials by surprise — raised some officials’ suspicions that Moscow may have been promised a reprieve, and triggered a search by U.S. spy agencies for clues.
“Something happened in those 24 hours” between Obama’s announcement and Putin’s response, a former senior U.S. official said. Officials began poring over intelligence reports, intercepted communications and diplomatic cables, and saw evidence that Flynn and Kislyak had communicated by text and telephone around the time of the announcement.
 When Pence faced questions on television that weekend, he said “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.”
Current and former U.S. officials said that assertion was not true.
Like Trump, Flynn has shown an affinity for Russia that is at odds with the views of most of his military and intelligence peers.
U.S. intelligence agencies say they have tied the GRU to Russia’s theft of troves of email messages from Democratic Party computer networks and accuse Moscow of then delivering those materials to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, which published them in phases during the campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival.

My gut continues to tell me that we are looking at likely acts of treason.  I just hope they can be exposed and that the guilty parties, including Trump, Pence and their henchmen get prosecuted, convicted and sentenced accordingly.  

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