Tags: Russia | michael flynn | russia | sanctions

Wash Post's Ignatius: Flynn's Calls to Russian Ambassador Could Be 'Improper'

Image: Wash Post's Ignatius: Flynn's Calls to Russian Ambassador Could Be 'Improper'

 Gen. Michael Flynn (AP Images)

By    |   Friday, 13 Jan 2017 03:11 PM

If incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn's contact with Russia's ambassador to Washington affected the sanctions that President Barack Obama ordered against Moscow, the communications could be considered "improper," Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said Friday.

Ignatius, who in a Thursday column broke the news about calls between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that there were several calls made on Dec. 29, when the sanctions were ordered in retaliation for hacking activities.

However, it is not clear if the two discussed the sanctions, which could have been a violation of an 18th century law, the Logan Act, that bars unauthorized citizens from brokering deals with foreign governments involved in disputes with the United States.

"The Trump transition team did not respond to my request for comment last night, but they did respond today, and they offered their own timeline, which is contemporaneous but not identical," Ignatius said.

He said campaign spokesman Sean Spicer reported the calls were actually made on Dec. 28, the day before the sanctions were announced, and that they discussed arrangements for a conversation between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after the inauguration.

"I was told additionally today by Trump transition officials that Kislyak extended an invitation to the Trump administration to attend a conference in Kazakhstan in late January, the conference on Syria," Ignatius said.

"That's interesting because the Russians have been very clear that they intended to exclude the Obama administration, the U.S., in the initial discussions of this, so that would signal a change."

Ignatius said he does not know how the government officials who spoke with him knew about the calls, and "one can obviously speculate."

"It would be surprising if the Russian ambassador's phones were not monitored by anyone who wants to know what he's saying, including the U.S. government, but I don't know that to be the source of this information," he told Mitchell.

However he does not think the contacts were coordinated through the White House.

"I think that there had been a regular and fairly personal contact between Flynn and Kislyak," said Ignatius, on "Christmas day, greetings, a response from Kislyak and then this conversation."

Flynn has visited Russia, continued Ignatius, and has appeared on "RT," a Russian television network.

However, Ignatius said he thinks that the contacts are part of a foreign policy question over the future of U.S.-Russian relations, not a conspiracy.

"Trump wants to improve that relationship," Ignatius said. "Flynn strongly agrees they make arguments for why that's so."

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If incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn's contact with Russia's ambassador to Washington affected the sanctions that President Barack Obama ordered against Moscow, the communications could be considered "improper," Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said Friday.
michael flynn, russia, sanctions
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2017-11-13
Friday, 13 Jan 2017 03:11 PM
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