TOP INTEL TODAY 2017 STORIES #5 : “Flynngate — The Mysterious Svetlana Lokhova”

“Multiple sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the CIA and FBI were discussing this episode, along with many others, as they assessed Flynn’s suitability to serve as national security adviser. The Cambridge meeting was part of a wider pattern of  maverick behaviour which included repeated contacts with Russia.”

The Guardian

Svetlana Lokhova

Long before his nomination as Trump’s National Security Advisor, US and UK Intelligence officials were troubled by Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn’s relationship with a Russian woman.

RELATED POST: INTEL TODAY — Top 10 Stories of 2017

This post was published in April 2 2017.  On December 1 2017, General Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in January 2017. There was no charge regarding his contacts with Mrs Svetlana Lokhova.

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RELATED POST: The Michael Flynn Saga: “The more you know, the less you understand.” [UPDATE]

RELATED POST: Former CIA Director James Woolsey: “Flynn discussed sending illegally Gulen back to Turkey.”

RELATED POST: Sean Spicer just told a whopper about Foreign Agent Mike Flynn

RELATED POST: Mike Flynn has resigned. Could an indictment lead to an impeachment? UPDATE 14/02/2017

UPDATE (January 11 2018) — General Mike Flynn, who appeared in federal court in Washington, acknowledged that he was cooperating with the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

RELATED POST: Russiagate — Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn Charged Over False Statements to FBI

So, what happens next? Special Counsel Robert Mueller will obviously try to determine why Flynn was allowed to remain at his post for 18 days after the Yates’ warning. The key issue is whether Trump directed Flynn to lie to senior officials, including VP Pence and/or the FBI.

If Trump knew that his national security adviser lied to the FBI in the early days of his administration, then it would raise serious questions about why Flynn was not fired until February 13 2017.

RELATED POST: Flynngate — Senator Ron Wyden: “CIA Director Pompeo owes the public an explanation.”

In that case, Trump could have obstructed justice when he ‘pressured’ the then FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation into Flynn. Trump fired Comey on May 9 2017.

On December 2 2017, Trump wrote on Twitter that he fired Flynn because he had lied to Pence and the FBI, strongly suggesting that he knew Flynn had lied to federal investigators at the time he fired Comey on May 9 2017.

“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.

He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”

Trump lawyer John Dowd later took responsibility for the tweet, saying he had drafted it for the White House social media director to post. This explanation seems rather odd, to say the least.

END of UPDATE

In February 2014, during a trip to Cambridge, Flynn met Svetlana Lokhova, a Russian-British graduate student. At the time, Flynn was the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Flynn and Lokhova were introduced to each other at the end of a dinner attended by 20 guests who included Sir Richard Dearlove – the former head of MI6 – and Professor Christopher Andrew, the official MI5 historian.

At a later time, Flynn invited Lokhova to accompany him on his next official visit to Moscow to help with simultaneous translation. Flynn never reported the discussion to US officials, as it would have been expected from him. A few weeks later, Flynn ‘resigned’ as Head of the DIA.

Flynn and  Lokhova kept in contact through emails. On occasion, Flynn would signed “General Misha”. [NOTE: Misha is a Russian nick-name for Mikhail/Michael. But, it also means ‘Teddy Bear’. Actually, “Misha the Bear” was the official mascot of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.]

A historian and a leading expert on Soviet espionage

Svetlana Lokhova is often described as a leading expert on Soviet espionage. For instance, in this piece, BBC Gordon Corera writes:

“”I think he was one of the most important spies the Soviet Union ever had,” agrees Svetlana Lokhova, an expert on Russian intelligence.”

John Simkin, a history researcher and writer particularly interested in the role of intelligence agencies in undermining democracy in the Western world , contacted Corera to point out several inaccuracies in the piece and complained about the distorted impression that he had given to the story.

“The article refers to two historians in support of the view that Belfrage was an important Soviet spy. Professor Christopher Andrew, the official historian of MI5 (…)

The second historian used was Svetlana Lokhova, who is described in the article as an expert on Russian intelligence.

This is not supported by a search on the web although she does seem to have been a student at Cambridge University, where Andrew has taught for many years.”

Ms Lokhova, who holds Russian and British citizenship, is indeed a post-graduate student of Professor Andrew.

Unique access to previously classified Soviet-era GRU material

Ms Lokhova claims to have unique access to previously classified Soviet-era GRU material. This is highly unusual to say the least… According to a Russian historian:

“At least with the FSB and SVR [domestic and foreign spy agencies] there are places you can apply to view the archives, but with the GRU there’s not even a place to apply.”

Lokhova also listed Flynn as one of four referees who would provide selective endorsements for her new book, which is expected to detail how Russian spies penetrated the US atomic weapons programme.

Svetlana Lokhova

Ms Lokhova used to work for the London branch of Russia’s state-controlled Sberbank.

In 2015, she won a £3.2million payout after winning an employment tribunal case in London against Sberbank CIB for sex discrimination and harassment.

How Ms Lokhova metamorphosed from a Russian banker into a UK historian with expertise in GRU espionage and US atomic weapons is a bit unclear at this point.

The Cambridge Intelligence Seminar

The CIS was set up by official MI5 historian Professor Christopher Andrew.

On December 17 2016, former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, former policy adviser at the White House Stefan Halper, and historian Peter Martland resigned from CIS.

“Suspicious were allegedly raised after claims a new digital publishing house called Veruscript, which helps cover some of the CIS’s costs, may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.

The publishing house, which, according to its website, is based in London, is also publishing a new journal, the Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies.

Some of those involved are thought to be concerned that Russia may attempt to use the link to the seminars to influence sensitive debates on national defence and security.”

TIMELINE

Comment: You will find a much better timeline in this post:

RELATED POST: Russiagate — Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn Charged Over False Statements to FBI

2013 — As DIA chief, Flynn visited the GRU headquarters in Moscow. He was the first US officer ever allowed inside its headquarters.  A second GRU visit was planned but denied. During this trip, he meets Russian diplomat Sergey Ivanovich Kislyak for the first time.

February 2014 — Flynn meets Svetlana Lokhova at Cambridge (CIS)

April 2014 — Flynn ‘quits’ the Defense Intelligence Agency

Summer 2015 –Flynn meets Trump for the first time after being invited to do so by his team

November 18 2016 — Flynn become Trump’s NSA

December 17 2016 — Three experts — including former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove — unexpectedly resigned from their positions at the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar (CIS), amid concerns that the Kremlin is behind a newly-established intelligence journal, which provides funding for CIS.

December 28 2016 — Flynn sends text message to Russia Amb. Kislyak to wish him a Merry Christmas.

December 28 2016 — Russia Amb. Kislyak  replies asking if they can talk on the phone?

December 29 2016 — US expels Russian diplomats over cyber attack allegations. The Obama administration said the GRU is responsible for the DNC hack.

December 29 2016 — Flynn and Russia Amb. Kislyak  phone calls (5?). US sanctions are discussed.

December 30 2016 — Putin announced that he would not retaliate. Trump praised Putin for the decision, writing in a Twitter post, “Great move on delay (by V.Putin). I always knew he was very smart!”

January 24 (?) 2017 —Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, again raised the issue with FBI Comey, who now backed away from his opposition to informing the White House. Yates and a senior career national security official spoke to McGahn, the White House counsel.

Yates tells the White House counsel that Flynn is vulnerable to blackmail by Russian intelligence.

Yates  considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call with Russia Amb. Kislyak  to be “highly significant” and “potentially illegal”

February 14 2017 — National Security Adviser Mike Flynn resigns

Michael Flynn – what you need to know

“Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is willing to testify before federal and congressional investigators in their ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the US elections, but only if he is granted immunity.”

NOTE: It has always been assumed that Flynn was asked to resign because of his phone calls with the Russian ambassador. But pay attention to the words of Spicer.

“Eroding level of trust as a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances…”

Spicer Grilled On Flynn Resignation – White House Press Conference Q & A

White House press secretary Sean Spicer is asked multiple questions about the resignation of Donald Trump’s national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Spicer says Flynn did nothing illegal, but Trump’s trust of him had eroded so he asked for his resignation.

REFERENCES

Michael Flynn: new evidence spy chiefs had concerns about Russian ties — Guardian

Cambridge spy seminars hit by whispers of Russian links as three intelligence experts resign — Telegraph December 17 2016

The problems of appearing in a BBC documentary  — Spartacus Educational

£3m sex discrimination case winner: ‘Everybody loses’ — BBC NEWS

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Flynngate — The mysterious Svetlana Lokhova

TOP INTEL TODAY 2017 STORIES — #5 : “Flynngate — The Mysterious Svetlana Lokhova”

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