Acting DNI Ric Grennell declassified then-NSA Flynn’s calls with then-Russian Ambassador Kislyak. They were released by the newly appointed DNI John Ratcliffe on Friday.
They cover calls between Flynn and Russian ambassador Kislyak or his representatives on December 22, 23, 29, 31, 2016; January 12, and 19, 2017.
The December 22 conversation remains classified, while the remaining transcripts and conversations are slightly redacted.
Flynn was charged by Mueller in 2017 with making false statements to federal officials about conversations he had with Kislyak on December 22 and December 29, 2017. The only conversation we can address is the one on the 29th since the other is classified.
Mueller claimed Flynn lied to the FBI agents when he said that he did not ask Kislyak to “refrain from escalating” in response to U.S. expulsion of Russian diplomats and falsely claimed that he did not ask Kislyak to help defeat an anti-Israel resolution pending before the United Nations at the time.
Mueller also stated that Flynn lied when he said he didn’t remember Kislyak telling him that Russia would “moderate its response” to the expulsions.
None of those charges are borne out in the transcripts so far. Mueller twisted his words.
The transcript of the December 29 conversation does NOT include a request from Flynn that Russia “refrain from escalating” in response to U.S. expulsions of Russian diplomats.
The transcript shows that Flynn asked Kislyak for Russia’s response to be “reciprocal” so that the U.S.–not Russia–would not be forced to escalate beyond the expulsions.
MUELLER CONFLATED THE SANCTIONS AND THE EXPULSIONS
Flynn clearly expected Russia to respond to the situation by expelling U.S. diplomats in response to the Obama administration’s move to expel nearly three dozen Russian diplomats from the U.S. The transcript shows that.
National Security Adviser Flynn’s primary concern was preventing a situation where the U.S. would have to escalate tensions in response to Russia.
“Make it reciprocal,” Flynn reportedly said. “[D]on’t go any further than you have to. Because I don’t want us to get into something that has to escalate, on a, you know, on a tit for tat.”
“I really don’t want us to get into a situation where we’re going, you know, where we do this and then you do something bigger, and then you know, everybody’s got to go back and forth and everybody’s got to be the tough guy here, you know?” Flynn continued.
“We need cool heads to prevail, and uh, we need to be very steady about what we’re going to do because we have absolutely a common uh, threat in the Middle East right now.”
Flynn later used the word “escalate” in reference NOT to a potential Russian response, but to what he hoped the United States would not have to do in response to Russian actions.
“If you have to do something, do something on a reciprocal basis,” Flynn said.
“And, and then, we know that we’re not going to escalate this thing[.]”
MUELLER CONFLATED TWO DIFFERENT ISSUES
Mueller also wittingly conflated discussions of financial sanctions levied against Russian entities and individuals via executive order on December 28, 2016, with the expulsion of Russian diplomats. They were two separate and distinct issues. The expulsions took place the day after the sanctions in two separate executive orders.
Flynn never discussed the financial sanctions against Russian individuals and entities levied by the Obama administration.
Flynn was concerned with preventing U.S. “tit-for-tat” escalation following the Obama administration’s expulsion of Russian diplomats.
Obama officials’ leaks to the press tried to say that Flynn was illegally operating as a secret Russian agent, but Flynn’s focus was to have Russia work with him on defeating their common enemy — ISIS.
Their common enemy, ISIS, was the focus of Flynn’s conversations.
Techno Fog, the anonymous attorney who digs up the court records and filings, has an interesting thread here that supports this.