Just four days after former National Security Advisor Michale Flynn lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russian “diplomats”, he joined President Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, on a phone call with President Vladimir Putin of Russia according to a report on RawStory today.
The call came two days after then acting Attorney General Sally Yates brought her concerns about Flynn’s lies to White House counsel Don McGahn, warning that his false testimony made him extremely vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government and therefore an extraordinary security risk.
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The evening before the call was the occasion of Trump’s famous private dinner with then FBI Director James Comey where Trump asked Comey to declare his loyalty.
While the White House issued only a brief summary of the call with Putin as a congratulatory message from The Russian president, the Kremlin issued a detailed summary of the discussion, saying the two leaders’ talked about:
“the importance of restoring mutually profitable trade and economic connections between the business circles of the two countries.”
“Both sides demonstrated a disposition toward active joint work for the stabilization and development of Russian-American collaboration on a constructive, equal and mutually beneficial basis,”
While calls such as these are typically recorded by the White House, RawStory quotes Ilan Berman, vice president of the conservative American Foreign Policy Council think tank, as saying no such recording existed of the Trump-Putin call.
The timing of the call and the participants involved raise major suspicions about who amongst Trump’s senior staff knew about the substance of Flynn’s contacts with the Russians and whether, indeed, the President himself knew about them. With Flynn having stated that he was directed to contact the Russians by a senior administration official that Bloomberg News has identified as Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, it is highly unlikely that no other senior officials were aware of the outreach.
Since the White House was already aware of the allegations against Flynn due to Sally Yates warnings, the facts that Yates was fired just 2 days after the call with Putin and that Flynn was only fired after The Washington Post published the news of Yates’ discussing his lies to the FBI with White House counsel, suggests that a coverup was already in the works just days into the administration.
Expect more details to be revealed as Robert Mueller marches on.