Flynn Transcripts Confirm Talk of Sanctions With Russian Envoy

Newly declassified transcripts confirm that Michael Flynn, who became President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration.

The transcripts from late 2016 and early 2017 that were released Friday by Republican senators show Flynn urging Kislyak to keep the temperature down between the two countries and to limit Russia’s response to measures that President Barack Obama took in December 2016 because of Russian cyber attacks.

The conversations that U.S. intelligence agencies obtained led to Flynn being fired for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about whether sanctions were discussed on the calls and to Flynn pleading guilty for lying to the FBI. But now Trump and Attorney General William Barr have said Flynn’s deception about the talks with Kislyak weren’t significant, and the Justice Department has sought to drop the case.

In the transcripts sent to Congress on Friday, Flynn told the Russian ambassador, “I know you have to have some sort of action” but “to only make it reciprocal” to avoid a “tit-for-tat escalation” of actions by Obama that included the expulsion of Russian diplomats in the U.S.

“Let’s keep this at even-kill level,” Flynn said. “Then when we come in, we will have a better conversation where we are going to go regarding our relationship.”

Read the transcripts here and here

While Democrats have said Flynn’s dealings with the Russian ambassador were improper interference in foreign policy before Trump took office, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said in a statement Friday that the transcripts show “that all of the innuendo about Lieutenant General Flynn this whole time was totally bunk. There was nothing improper about his call, and the FBI knew it.”

In January, 2017, Pence said on Fox News that “the conversations that took place at that time were not in anyway related to the new U.S. sanctions against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats.” But Pence recently said he would welcome Flynn back into the White House.

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