1.The erstwhile NSA to Trump administration Michael Flynn was warned by senior members of President Trump’s transition team about the risks of his contacts with the Russian ambassador weeks before the December 2016 call that led to Flynn’s forced resignation, current and former US officials said.
2.Now it is known from White House officials that Michael Flynn was told during a late November meeting that Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s conversations were almost certainly being monitored by US intelligence agencies, a caution that came a month before Flynn was recorded discussing US sanctions against Russia with Kislyak, suggesting that the Trump administration would re-evaluate the issue.
3.Officials were so concerned that Flynn did not fully understand the motives of the Russian ambassador that the head of Trump’s national security council transition team asked Obama administration officials for a classified CIA profile of Kislyak. The document was delivered within days, but it is not clear that Flynn ever read it.
4.Undisclosed sequence of events revealed the extent to which even some Trump insiders were troubled by the still-forming administration’s entanglements with Russia and its enthusiasm for a friendly relationship with the Kremlin.
5.The failed efforts to intervene with Flynn also cast harsh new light on a national security adviser who lasted just 24 days on the job before revelations about his discussions with Kislyak — and misleading accounts of them — forced him to resign.6.Providing the Kislyak bio was seen by Obama officials as part of an effort “to make sure the new team had a full appreciation of the extent of the threat from Russia,” a former US official said.
7.The need to impress this point upon Flynn added to the growing concerns among senior members of the Obama administration, who at the time were still coming to grips with the scale of Russian interference in the 2016 election and were worried that any punitive measures they imposed might be rescinded when Trump was sworn in.
8.The request for the Kislyak document came from , a former senior Pentagon official in the George W. Bush administration who led Trump’s national security transition team from November until shortly before Trump’s inauguration. This Pentagon official who declines requests for comment, was nominated this week for a high-level position in the Treasury Department overseeing efforts to disrupt terrorist financing.
9.A former deputy undersecretary of the Navy, the aforesaid Pentagon man was among a small group of experienced national security hands on the Trump transition whose entrenched skepticism toward Russia seemed at odds with the pro-Moscow impulses of Flynn and the incoming president, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity .
10.The Pentagon's inspector general launched an investigation into Gen. Michael Flynn over payments he accepted from foreign governments. The revelation came on April 27, when House Democrats released a letter sent from Defense Department Inspector General to the House Oversight Committee. President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, accepted money from foreign entities without the required approval, according to a letter released by House Democrats on Thursday.
11.The Trump administration has taken a harsher tone toward Russia in recent weeks after the Syrian government, which is backed by Moscow, reportedly used chemical weapons on civilians. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month accused Russia of being “incompetent or complicit” in the attack, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo described Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a man for whom ‘veracity’ doesn’t translate.”
12.But Trump has pointedly refused to employ such language himself and this week renewed his skepticism that Russia was responsible for a hacking and propaganda campaign targeting last year’s presidential race — a position held by the president that is at odds with the unanimous view of US intelligence agencies.
13.Asked during a recent CBS interview whether he believed the allegations of Russian meddling, Trump said, “I’ll go along with Russia. Could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.”
14.The unusual steps taken by transition officials working with Flynn suggest that internal tensions over Russia began almost immediately after Trump’s victory in an election that Moscow sought to help him win, according to a declassified report from US intelligence agencies.
15.In an attempt to improve coordination, the transition group scheduled a November meeting in Washington, a session attended by Flynn as well as about a dozen aides and staff members from other departments, officials said. Others also participated by phone.
16.As Flynn went through his upcoming appointments, he mentioned that he was being inundated with requests for meetings from diplomats. Most would have to wait to get access to Trump’s designated national security adviser, a position that would give Flynn enormous influence in the White House. Flynn then revealed that he’d already scheduled a conversation with Kislyak.
17.Meetings with foreign counterparts are commonplace for incoming national security advisers. But the reference to Kislyak raised eyebrows among officials who had spent much of their careers treating Russia as an adversary and avoiding encounters with Russian officials who might be engaged in espionage.
18.The former Pentagon official mentioned earler warned Flynn that Kislyak was likely a target of US surveillance and that his communications — whether with US persons or superiors in Moscow — were undoubtedly being monitored by the FBI and National Security Agency, according to officials familiar with the exchange. Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who led the Defense Intelligence Agency, would presumably have been aware of such surveillance.
19. The above former Pentagon man then said that he would obtain a copy of the profile of Kislyak, officials said, a document that he urged Flynn to read if he were going to communicate with the Russian envoy. Flynn’s reaction was noncommittal, officials said, neither objecting to the feedback nor signaling agreement.
20.Shortly thereafter, during the week of Nov. 28, the former Pentagon man and other transition officials met with lower-level Obama administration officials in the Situation Room at the White House where he asked for the CIA profile of Kislyak.
21.Days later, Flynn took part in a meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower. White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks has confirmed that both Flynn and Jared Kushner, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, took part in that session, which was not publicly disclosed at the time.
22.It’s not clear whether the Kislyak’s CIA profile was shared before that meeting. Flynn continued to communicate with Kislyak, however, exchanging text messages and cellphone calls, culminating in a conversation intercepted by US intelligence agencies just as the Obama administration was announcing election-related sanctions on Russia.
23.The Dec. 29 measures included the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies, the closure of two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, and economic sanctions against Russian intelligence services and officials.
24.Kislyak would have been keenly interested in whether the Trump administration, just weeks from taking office, intended to enforce these measures. After denying for weeks that he had discussed the sanctions with Kislyak, Flynn altered his story in early February when told that The Washington Post planned to publish a story saying he had done so, citing multiple sources familiar with the contents of the Kislyak call.
25.Flynn was forced to resign days later and may face other consequences for his dealings with Russia. The FBI has interviewed Flynn about the conversations with Kislyak. Flynn is also under investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general over $45,000 he accepted for appearing at a 2015 event in Russia and $530,000 his former consulting firm was paid for work tied to the Turkish government.
26.The CIA profile on Kislyak was placed in a room in the Trump transition offices set up to handle classified material. Officials familiar with the document said that even if Flynn had read it, there was little in it that would have triggered alarms.
27.The file spanned three or four pages, describing Kislyak’s diplomatic career, extensive involvement in arms negotiations, and reputation as a determined proponent of Russian interests. It noted that he routinely reported information back to Moscow and that any information he gathered would be shared with Russia’s intelligence services. But the file did not say Kislyak was a spy meaning , he accesses classified information.
28.During Flynn’s fleeting tenure as national security adviser, he had several follow-on conversations with Kislyak, and at one point Flynn proposed a lunch, officials said. The Russian Embassy called repeatedly to collect on that offer, officials said, until Flynn was fired and the calls stopped. ( Source : Washington Post May5, 2017)