Russian Officials Bragged About Using Flynn To Influence Trump: CNN Report
Concerned U.S. intelligence officials took extreme measures to protect top secret information from the Trump administration after hearing Russian officials bragged that they had cultivated a strong relationship with former Trump adviser retired Gen. Michael Flynn and that they could use him to influence Donald Trump and his team, CNN reported Friday night.
The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said.
According to the network, U.S. officials were so alarmed that they decided to limit how much sensitive information they shared with Flynn, who was tapped to become Trump’s national security adviser, current and former governments officials said.
“This was a five-alarm fire from early on,” one former Obama administration official said, “the way the Russians were talking about him.” Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem.
One major concern for Obama administration officials was the subject of conversations between Flynn and Kislyak that took place shortly after President Barack Obama slapped new sanctions on Russia for meddling in the election.
Officials told CNN that Flynn told Kislyak that the Trump administration would look favorably on a decision by Russia to hold off on retaliating with its own sanctions. The next day, Putin said he wouldn’t retaliate.
Flynn’s calls with Kislyak in December have received the most attention, but his relationship with the Russian ambassador goes back four years. Officials noticed an uptick in communication between Flynn and Kislyak shortly after Flynn’s trip to Moscow in December 2015.
Trump angrily denied any collusion with Russia this week and denounced the newest investigation But he urged then-FBI Director James Comey in February to drop the bureau’s investigation into Flynn and “let this go,” according to a memo Comey wrote at the time. The conversation, first reported by The New York Times earlier this week, has opened the President up to charges from critics of obstruction of justice.