One Year Ago — Donald Trump Interest In Russia Sanctions Alarmed Outgoing State Staff

“Did President Donald Trump know Michael Flynn talked about sanctions during his conversations a year ago with the former Russian ambassador? Or did the President’s small circle of advisers keep it from him?”

Jeff Zeleny and Kevin Liptak —  CNN

December 11 2017 — In this old interview, Dan Fried — the  former State Department chief coordinator for sanctions policy — talks about what he heard from colleagues about the eagerness of the Trump administration in its early days to lift sanctions on Russia without condition. The interview is worth watching again considering what we now know about Mike Flynn and Katy McFarland.

Obviously, McFarland was lying. We know that she spoke with Flynn just BEFORE and right AFTER his conversation(s) with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29 2016. I would suggest that McFarland was not instructing her boss on what he should say to Kislyak.

Obviously, she was only passing information. Now, the key question is who instructed McFarland about the message that Flynn should relay to the Russian embassador about the US sanctions? Beside Trump himself, that person could only be the Vice-President. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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

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

RELATED POST: There’s Something That Michael Flynn Knows That Has Trump Extremely Nervous

RELATED POST: Sean Spicer just told a whopper about Foreign Agent Mike Flynn — UPDATE: NYT Confirmed

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

RELATED POST: Robert Mueller — Enough Evidence to Charge Michael Flynn

UPDATE (December 11 2018) — Actually, I will not add anything to this post. I will just say this. The key question I raised one year ago in this post has not yet been answered. But I suspect that Mueller knows the truth about it. And I would bet that Trump knows that Mueller knows… END of UPDATE

December 11 2017 — An email exchange (obtained by The New York Times) indicates that Katy McFarland — then Deputy national security adviser — was aware at the time of a crucial December 29 phone call between general Mike Flynn — then National security adviser — and Russian embassador Sergey Kislyak. That communication was intercepted by US intelligence.

During that call, Flynn urged Moscow to respond cautiously to sanctions just imposed by the Obama administration for Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

On that day, the US had just expelled Russian diplomats over cyber attack allegations. The Obama administration said the GRU was responsible for the DNC hack.

Members of Obama’s administration warned the Trump transition team that an “outsized response” from Moscow was expected.

During his phone call with the Russian embassador, Flynn asked that Russia do not escalate the situation. On December 30 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that no immediate retaliation would take place.

On January 24 2017 — Mike Flynn was interviewed by the FBI (At the White House without a lawyer) and denied that he discussed the sanctions with the Russian embassador. Mike Flynn was forced to resign on February 13 because, according to the explanations of the White House at the time, he had lied to the Vice President-elect.

Indeed, on January 15 2017, Vice President-elect Mike Pence appeared on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” and defended Flynn’s conversations, saying Flynn did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak during phone calls in December 2016.

On December 1 2017, Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents (during the January 24 2017 interview) about that conversation and other interactions with Mr. Kislyak. Why did Flynn lie to the FBI is a bit of a mystery. Surely, as a former Intelligence officer and former DIA boss, Flynn must have known that this communication had been intercepted by the NSA!

No Loose Canon

The idea that Flynn acted alone has always seemed ludicrous and we now know that it is indeed not true.

On December 29 2016, Katy McFarland — the top national security aide traveling with the President-elect at Mar-a-Lago in Florida — spoke by phone with Flynn to discuss what he should say to Kislyak, according to the court filings released. (While she was not mentioned by name, CNN has reported that McFarland was the transition official who spoke to Flynn.)

According to the court filings, Flynn was told that members of Trump’s transition team at Mar-a-Lago agreed that they did not want Russia to escalate the situation.

And — again according to these court filings — Flynn spoke by phone to Kislyak right after speaking with McFarland.

Moreover, right after the phone call with embassador Kislyak, Flynn called McFarland back, relaying the details of his conversation.

Who Was Where?

On December 29 2016,  many of Trump’s closest associates were scattered around several warm-weather locations. Mr. Kushner was vacationing in Hawaii with his family.

While  Flynn was in the Dominican Republic, other senior members of Mr. Trump’s transition team, including Ms. McFarland, were at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

Besides Trump himself, Vice President Mike Pence, head of the transition team, Sean Spicer, then White House press secretary, and Adviser Kellyanne Conway were also at Mar-a-Lago.

Why the lies?

Written comments from Katy McFarland contrast with court documents unsealed after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

“Did you ever discuss any of General Flynn’s contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak directly with General Flynn?” Sen. Cory Booker asked McFarland in July in written correspondence with the committee, which is overseeing her nomination at US embassador in Singapore.

“I am not aware of any of the issues or events as described above,” McFarland wrote.

Obviously, McFarland was lying. We know that she spoke with Flynn just BEFORE and right AFTER his conversation with the Russian embassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29 2017.

I suggest that McFarland was not instructing her boss on what he should say to Kislyak. Obviously, she was only passing information. Now, the key question is who instructed McFarland about the message that Flynn should relay to the Russian embassador about the US sanctions? Beside Trump himself, that person could only be the Vice-President.

Either way, the story is quite confusing. To make it worse, Trump has now changed his story and claims that he fired Flynn because he had lied to the FBI! And to top it all, we know that Trump’s team wanted to lift the sanctions unilaterally and with nothing whatsoever in return from Russia. Even from a businessman point of view, that seems a bit odd.

Early Departure

McFarland, 65 — a former national security analyst for Fox News — was one of Trump’s first hires after he was elected president.

On April 9 2017, McFarland was asked to step down. McFarland will become the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

The timing is interesting. A few days before (March 25 2017), Julliette Kayyem (CNN) suggested that General Mike  Flynn — who had to resign on February 13 2017 — had made a deal with the FBI.

TIMELINE

As part of his plea bargain, Michael Flynn has signed a “statement of the offence” that includes a timeline of the last week of December 2016. The dates of these statements are written in bold.

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

October 8 2014 — a letter to Flynn from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Office of General Counsel explicitly warns Flynn, as he entered retirement, that he was prohibited by the Constitution from receiving payments from foreign sources without advance permission.

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

May 2016 — Flynn joins NSO Group as an “adviser”

July 15 2016 — Attempted coup in Turkey. Ankara claims Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, masterminded the failed putsch. Extradition requested. Turkey Coup: “CIA Plotters’ Meeting” in Büyükada

August 9 2016 — Flynn Intel Group entered into a contract with Inovo, a consulting firm based in the Netherlands. The work focused on Mr. Fethullah Gulen and charter schools in the United States that are associated with Gulen.

August 15 2016 — The Flynn – Inovo contract goes into effect.

August 15 2016 — Presidential Candidate donald Trump tweets: “I’ve got fresh evidence 13 CIA senior officers helped in Turkey Failed Coup. I will divulge the names in the coming days.” Trump and the Attempted Coup in Turkey : “13 CIA senior officers helped in Failed Coup”

August 24 2016 — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey. Biden made it clear that an extradition request is a legal matter, not one for the POTUS to decide.

September 9 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $200k

September 19 2016 — Flynn met with senior representatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government at the Essex House hotel in New York City. Extradition of Gulen discussed. The Turkish officials are Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak who is the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

October [x] 2016 — Flynn Intel officials presented some of their ‘anti-Gulen’ research to the House Homeland Security Committee.

October 10 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $185k

November 8 2016 — Suspicions about Flynn’s ties to the Turkish government were sparked by an op-ed he wrote in the Hill. Flynn calls Gulen ‘shady’ and endorses his extradition.

November 10 2016 — Mike Flynn calling for the extradition of Gulen

November 10, 2016 — Obama warned Trump about Flynn during their Oval Office meeting

November 15 2016 — Inovo BV Payments to Flynn Intel Group $145k

November 17 2016 — President-elect Trump intends to pick Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to be his National Security Advisor

November 18 2016 — Flynn becomes Trump’s NSA

Mid-December — Meeting between Mr Flynn and Turkish officials in New York. Flynn discussed having Mr Gulen transported on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

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 22 2016 — A “very senior” Trump transition team official tells Michael Flynn to contact foreign governments including Russia to discuss a pending UN Security Council vote on Israeli settlements.

December 22 & 23 — Mr Flynn urges Sergei Kislyak to vote against or delay the resolution; the next day Mr Kislyak says Russia would not vote against such a resolution

December 23 2016 — 14 Delegations in favour of UN Resolution 2334 as United States abstains.

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 28 2016  — Mr Kislyak contacts Mr Flynn – on the day President Obama announces sanctions against Russia for interfering in the presidential election.

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 exchange (5?) phone calls. US sanctions are discussed.

December 29 2016 Mr Flynn contacts “a senior official” in the Trump transition team at Mar-a-Lago in Florida to discuss a response. He “immediately” calls the ambassador back, urging Russia not to escalate the situation, then gets back in touch with the Trump transition official

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!”

December 30 2016 — Russian President Vladimir Putin announces no immediate retaliation will take place

December 31 2016 — Mr Kislyak calls Mr Flynn to inform him of Russia’s position, and Mr Flynn contacts the Trump transition team.

January 5 2017 — “Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Advisor to President-Elect Trump or the Transition.”Woolsey said on CNN that he did not want to “fly under false colors” any longer.

January 15 2017 — Vice President-elect Mike Pence appears on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” and defends Flynn’s conversations, saying Flynn did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak during phone calls in December.

January 24 2017 — Mike Flynn interviewed by the FBI (At the White House; No lawyer)

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.

January 26 2017 — 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”

January 27 2017 — Yates and McGahn second meeting. McGahn wants to know 4 Things. Why the DOJ cares? Is there a criminal case? Could the White House decision be interpreted as interference? What and where is the evidence against Flynn?

January 27 2017 — Trump invites Comey for dinner. Trump requests “pledge of loyalty”.

January 30 2017 — Sally Yates  dismissed by President Trump

February 13 2017 — (Monday night) National Security Adviser Mike Flynn resigns

February 14 2017 — Trump asks Comey to drop the investigation on Flynn

March 8 2017 — Flynn Intel Group Inc filed retroactive documents with the Department of Justice to register as a foreign agent.

March 24 2017 — WSJ breaks the news of the September 19 meeting (Woolsey). The meeting was however mentioned in the documents filed on March 8 2017.

March 25 2017 — Julliette Kayyem (CNN) suggests Flynn made a deal with the FBI

April 9 2017 — Deputy national security adviser Katy McFarland is asked to step down. McFarland will become the U.S. ambassador to Singapore.

May 9 2017 — CNN reported that a grand jury had begun issuing subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn

May 9 2017 — Comey is dismissed by President Trump

May 10 2017 —The Senate Intelligence Committee  issued a subpoena to Mike Flynn

May 16 2017 — Memos reveal Trump asked FBI Comey to drop Flynn investigation

May 17 2017 — Robert Mueller appointed special Prosecutor

October 30 2017 — Special counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictments of former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

October 30 2017 — Mueller’s office released a “statement of offense” outlining one major instance of when the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia. George Papadopoulos — a foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign — pleaded guilty to making false statements to FBI agents investigating the Trump-Russia scandal.

November 8 2017 — The Bureau of Prisons inmate locator shows that Zarrab was released Nov. 8, three days after NBC News reported that the special counsel had enough evidence to bring charges against Flynn.

December 1 2017 —  Flynn pleads guilty to making a false statement to the FBI in January 2017.

Trump Interest In Russia Sanctions Alarmed Outgoing State Staff

REFERENCES

Inside Mar-a-Lago for 48 hours critical to the Russia investigation — CNN

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Donald Trump Interest In Russia Sanctions Alarmed Outgoing State Staff

One Year Ago — Donald Trump Interest In Russia Sanctions Alarmed Outgoing State Staff

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