Kremlin Says Putin and Trump Will Meet In July

Vladimir Smirnov  TASS

The top Democrat handling foreign affairs in the US House of Representatives called on President Donald Trump to sack National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after reports emerged Flynn consulted with Russian Federation on sensitive issues before Trump assumed office.

Some of the intelligence officials even went so far as to say that Flynn indicated that Trump could reexamine sanctions after becoming president.

Chris Cillizza writes "The Fix", a politics blog for the Washington Post.

It had previously been established that Mr Flynn, former Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, exchanged phone calls and text messages with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining the contacts. All nine agents confirmed that Flynn had extensive contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before and after the election.

On Friday, as outcry over Mr Flynn's actions grew, the White House was dragged into the issue, with a senior official telling the Associated Press that the national security advisor "can't be certain" that sanctions were not discussed. Vice President Mike Pence, in particular, insisted in no uncertain terms during a january 15 interview on CBS that Flynn "did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russian Federation".

Flynn spoke to Kislyak on December 29, the same day the sanctions were announced.

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The question, of course, was why Flynn made those calls. He also said Trump's team had no contact with Russian Federation during the campaign. The Logan Act, an obscure 1799 statute, makes it illegal for civilians to negotiate with foreign government in disputes involving the USA government. But U.S. officials are now saying that the sanctions were also a topic of conversation.

White House officials have denied that any impropriety took place during the phone calls.

"Flynn took that call", Spicer said, adding that it "centered on the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russian Federation and [Trump] after the election".

Trump has twice claimed in 2014 that he had contact with Putin, "who could not have been nicer" when visiting Moscow, while also implying the pair met and "got to know" each other on an episode of 60 Minutes in 2015, which featured interviews with both men.

Last week, House Democrats called for an investigation of Flynn to determine whether he violated the Constitution by accepting payments from a Kremlin-controlled TV station in Russian Federation.

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