As part of a broader investigation into Russian activities in the 2016 US elections and beyond, anonymous sources from the intelligence community have reported to CNN that they are looking into international calls between President Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States. One of the December calls allegedly coincided with the same day President Obama announced sanctions against Russia and ousted 35 Russian diplomats for their alleged role in espionage. The CNN report stated the following.
“The calls were captured by routine US eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats, according to the intelligence and law enforcement officials. But the officials said some of the content of the conversation raised enough potential concerns that investigators are still looking into the discussions, amid a broader concern about Russian intelligence-gathering activities in the United States.”
Russian interference in the 2016 elections and the intelligence community’s assessment that Moscow’s intent was to sway the result for Donald Trump has been a flash point between the new White House administration and certain members of Congress, the NSA, FBI, and CIA. President Trump has insisted that the evidence presented was thin, that the Russians failed to accomplish their goal and that media attention has been designed to undermine the legitimacy of his electoral victory.
Members of the Senate, most notably Republicans John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have been vocal in opposition to Trump’s lack of trust in the Washington, DC intelligence apparatuses and warned him to avoid appearing skeptical of the CIA findings while simultaneously appearing soft on Russia. Outgoing CIA director John Brennan was frequently critical of what he called Mr. Trump’s “self aggrandizement” and what he viewed disrespect for the men and women of our national security institutions. The Trump administration has relegated the feud with Brennan as nothing more than the politicization of our domestic intelligence and even as a bitter retaliation from an outgoing security head.
The recent discovery of an investigation into Michael Flynn, first reported last night by The Wall Street Journal, comes at a time when FBI director James Comey has come under scrutiny for refusing to confirm nor deny the existence of an ongoing investigation by the department into the Trump campaign and possible business ties to Russia. Democratic members questioned Comey to ascertain why he felt it necessary to announce further investigations into Hillary Clinton’s private emails mere days before the election, only to announce shortly thereafter that the investigation yielded nothing, yet couldn’t comment on the possibility of an ongoing Trump investigation into Russian ties. Comey stood by the policy to not comment on the possibility of an open investigation.
Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia are well known, and in an interview last summer with the Washington Post, he was asked about his most notable trip to Moscow. Flynn stated the following.
“I went there on a fully approved trip. I had a great trip. I was the first U.S. officer ever allowed inside the headquarters of the GRU [Russian intelligence]. I was able to brief their entire staff. I gave them a leadership OPD. [Professional development class on leadership] and talked a lot about the way the world’s unfolding.”
He has regularly been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration after parting ways in 2014 as President Obama’s National Security Adviser over what he deemed as a disagreement about approaching Islamic terror. He has referred to Islam in the past as a “cancer” and is part of a Trump platform that has promised to halt immigration to the US from Muslim countries and considered creating a Muslim registry. A spokesperson for President Trump last night denied any knowledge of an investigation into Flynn.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]