Obama in December slapped sanctions on Russian Federation because of its alleged spying in the United States and because the USA intelligence community expressed a high degree of certainty that Russian Federation attempted to meddle in the US elections.
Flynn had repeatedly insisted he never discussed sanctions in a series of phone calls with Kislyak in late December, but his spokesman told the Post this week that while Flynn "had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up".
That's, um, bad. It strains credulity that on Wednesday (Thursday NZT), Flynn could issue a flat denial about conversations he had with Kislyak, but the next day, suddenly his memory of those conversations changed.
Vice President Mike Pence has denied that Flynn discussed the sanctions with Russian Federation before entering the White House.
On January 13, President Donald Trump's Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Flynn and Kislyak coordinated the logistics of a call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. One of the sources said that the rejection was approved by Trump's Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo and that it infuriated Flynn and his allies.
That alone left the Trump administration on the defensive.
The Kremlin denied Friday reports that Flynn discussed sanctions on Russian Federation in recent discussions with Russia's ambassador to Washington. At the most, well, I'll leave that to your imagination - but suffice to say it's not good.
As a result, some officials believe that Flynn may have broken the law, citing the Logan Act, which states that a USA citizen can not interfere in foreign diplomacy.
Citing current and former US officials, The Washington Post reports, "Flynn's communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior USA 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". But what I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that 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. Hours later, an official acknowledged one such call.
Democrats have since the campaign been raising questions about Flynn, who in 2015 accepted a fee to speak at the 10th anniversary of RT, the English-language broadcaster widely seen as a Russian government propaganda outlet.
Flynn's contact with Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the USA, were seen by critics as a potential violation of the law.
The harder question is whether Flynn was open about his conversations, which Flynn should have known would probably be controversial, especially given his past interaction, including a paid speech, with Russia Today, a Kremlin mouthpiece.
The calls were captured by routine USA eavesdropping targeting Russian diplomats, according to the intelligence and law enforcement officials.
As a retired army officer, Flynn is prohibited from accepting direct or indirect payment from a foreign government, but he has said the payment came through a speakers bureau.