Transcripts released of Flynn’s calls with Russian diplomat – By Eric Tucker (Associated Press) / May 29 2020
WASHINGTON (AP) — Transcripts of phone calls that played a pivotal role in the Russia investigation were declassified and released Friday, showing that Michael Flynn, as an adviser to then-President-elect Donald Trump, urged Russia’s ambassador to be “even-keeled” in response to punitive Obama administration measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the two countries after Trump became president.
Democrats said the transcripts showed that Flynn lied to the FBI when he denied details of the conversation, and that he was undercutting a sitting president while communicating about sanctions with a country that had just interfered in the 2016 election. But allies of the president who maintain the FBI had no reason to investigate Flynn in the first place insisted that the transcripts showed he had done nothing wrong.
The transcripts were released by Senate Republicans on Friday after being provided by Trump’s new national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, who waded into one of the most contentious political topics in his first week on the job. Ratcliffe’s extraordinary decision to disclose transcripts of intercepted conversations with a foreign ambassador is part of ongoing efforts by Trump allies to release previously secret information from the Russia investigation in hopes of painting Obama-era officials in a bad light.
The transcripts are unlikely to significantly reshape public understanding of the contact between Flynn and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a central moment in the Russia investigation. They do show that the men did in fact discuss sanctions, matching the general description of the call provided in the 2017 guilty plea that Flynn reached with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.
But the documents will unquestionably add to the partisan divisions of the case, which have intensified in the last month with the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the prosecution.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee, said in a statement that the transcripts show Flynn lied not only to the FBI but also to Vice President Mike Pence, who erroneously stated publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions. Trump later forced Flynn out for misleading the administration.