Transcripts of conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak show that incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was looking out for US interests and sought Russian help against terrorists, while the FBI framed him.
Flynn and Kislyak spoke several times in December 2016 and January 2017, during the presidential transition. Within days of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the FBI interviewed Flynn with an intent – as shown by recently published documents – to catch him in a perjury trap. After a description of his call with Kislyak was leaked to the Washington Post, Flynn was accused of misleading the White House about the calls and pressured to resign.
Those invested in the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory have claimed for years that Flynn discussed easing US sanction against Moscow.
Actual transcripts of the calls, made public on Friday by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), paint a drastically different picture. They show Flynn asking Moscow to not play the game of “tit-for-tat” escalation triggered by outgoing President Barack Obama’s expulsion of Russian diplomats, that would have “boxed in” the incoming president – and seeking to work together with Russia against “a common threat in the Middle East,” which from the context appears to be a reference to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists.
“Do not allow this administration to box us in, right now, okay?” Flynn tells Kislyak in a call on December 29, 2016, asking Russia to make its response “reciprocal.” He doesn’t want to create a situation where “everybody’s got to go back and forth and everybody’s got to be the tough guy here, you know?”
“We don’t need that right now,” Flynn says. “We need cool heads to prevail, and uh, and we need to be very steady about what we’re going to do because we have absolutely a common uh. threat in the Middle East right now.”
Two days later, on December 31, Kislyak informs Flynn that their conversation “was taken into account” in Moscow. In fact, President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate at all, saying he didn’t want to ruin the holidays for American diplomats and their families.
Flynn called this decision “wise.” Kislyak then said something that would turn out to be prophetic – that Russia judged these actions by the Obama administration to be aimed not just against Moscow, but against Trump.
“And I just wanted to tell you that we found that these actions have targeted not only against Russia, but also against the president-elect… and with all our rights to respond we have decided not to act now because, it’s because people are dissatisfied with the loss of elections and, and it’s very deplorable,” the ambassador said.