While the communications are still being examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, officials told the Post there was not yet any evidence that Flynn explicitly promised Kislyak that the Trump administration would review or consider lifting sanctions put in place by former President Barack Obama in December.
On Wednesday Flynn again denied he had discussed sanctions, but by Thursday the Post reported that a spokesman for Flynn "indicated that while [Flynn] had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up". Flynn appears to have lied and may have lied to Pence, who repeated it.
The Post report also raises questions about assertions made by Pence staunchly denying that Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador had anything to do with sanctions.
On Sunday talk shows last month, when Vice President Pence was asked about the controversy, he said on CBS's Face the Nation that it was "strictly coincidental" that Flynn and the ambassador spoke around the time the sanctions were levied - and, he added, "they did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russian Federation". US officials have said Flynn's calls with Kislayk were picked up as part of routine surveillance of the Russian diplomat.
"We're getting mixed messages" on Russian Federation, a senior western diplomat who has met with Flynn recently told CNN, going on to suggest that while State Department officials are adamant that sanctions will remain in place until Russian Federation withdraws from Crimea, those closer to Trump at the White House are offering less certain assurances.
Current and former USA officials confirmed the alleged exchange, seeming at odds with Flynn's assertion the pair never broached the subject with Kislyak before Trump's January 20 inauguration. The problem, however, is that Flynn's move potentially violates a USA law called the Logan Act, which disallows private citizens from engaging in diplomatic measures on behalf of the government, according to the New York Times.
When campaign turned into transition, and President Obama slapped new sanctions on Russia as a punishment for its expansive interference in the USA election, Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador.
That said, the president should without a doubt sack Flynn. "What I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions".
"At a minimum, Flynn recklessly violated the sacred principle that America only has one president at a time".
Flynn's attitude to Russia specifically has attracted criticism from some Democrats and Republicans, in particular a 2015 trip to Moscow to speak at an anniversary conference for the Russian propaganda network, Russia Today, where he dined at a table with Putin. It's unacceptable that during the transition, General Flynn discussed lifting sanctions with Russia's ambassador.
Flynn's contact with the Russian ambassador suggests the Trump administration has been laying the groundwork for its promised closer relationship with Moscow. The official maintained that he had been paid to attend the event as a speaker.
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