It is the scandal that President Trump doesn’t want to talk about. Yet his Vice President stepped right in it as an alibi for the player in this story. Thursday night, the Washington Post examined a story that had seemed to fade away but new evidence proves the story still have life in it. The story involves White House national security adviser Michael Flynn and his celebratory conversation with members of the Russian government. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? It is if the conversation occurred before President Trump has actually been sworn in.
The Washington Post is reporting that Flynn spoke about the sanctions the Obama Administration had imposed on Russia for their role in influencing the 2016 Presidential election with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The conversations, yes conversations, occurred in December. The Post is reporting that,” citing unnamed current and former U.S. officials interpreted the conversations as a “potentially illegal” signal to Russia that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in December.
One allegation is that Flynn interacted with Russia a day after the Obama Administration issued the sanctions December 29th. If Flynn did speak about removing the sanctions it would be a breach of the Logan Act. The 1799 law prohibiting private citizens from negotiating with countries with which the US is in dispute. No one has actually been prosecuted for that crime but for Flynn, covering it up would be worse as it would then open an investigation into what type of security risk Flynn took.
In comments from both Flynn and then Vice President-elect Mike Pence, they denied that Flynn discussed the sanctions with Kislyak during the calls. They stated it was just holiday wishes and plans for a phone call between the presidents after the inauguration. Yet with the story that the Washington Post published Thursday, Flynn is walking back his denial. Flynn is now saying that, “he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.” Allegedly, two U.S. officials told the Post that Flynn led Kislyak to believe that the sanctions would be reevaluated after Trump took office.
Friday, Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member of the House intelligence committee, responded to the allegations in a written statement, “The allegation that General Flynn, while President Obama was still in office, secretly discussed with Russia’s ambassador ways to undermine the sanctions levied against Russia for its interference in the presidential election on Trump’s behalf, raises serious questions of legality and fitness for office.”
Republicans are also responding. Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, was asked what should happen to Flynn and he said it would be up to President Trump to make that decision but that if the country had been misled, “we would expect the president to take appropriate actions”. The report of the telephone conversations between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak is that there is an actual transcript of the call and that those familiar with the situation have actually seen the printed conversation.
The allegations of Flynn being involved as an acting agent for the U. S before Trump was even sworn in has galvanized the Democrats to follow through on preparing a Senate intelligence committee to look into evidence that Russia had acted on behalf of the Donald Trump to be elected President over Hillary Clinton. Now with new allegations, Democrats are warning the Republicans that delays could be seen as a cover up. Republicans could be seen as dragging their feet to avoid the public being handed knowledge of the Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential campaign. The FBI investigation into Flynn’s contacts with Kisylak is ongoing.