January 23, 2017

It's not looking especially good for National Security Adviser Michael Flynn right now. There are new reports -- by which I mean new leaks from the intelligence community -- which suggest he had more than the two contacts with the Russian embassy claimed by Sean Spicer in today's press briefing.

The Daily Beast:

Michael Flynn, the National Security Adviser to President Trump, has been under investigation—and possibly still is—for what has been described as his “repeated contacts” with a Russian official, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. Flynn’s communications have been under scrutiny by the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, and the Treasury Department as part of a counterintelligence probe into ties between the Kremlin and Trump’s team, according to the report. The investigation stems from reports that surfaced this month about the retired general making phone calls to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on the very same day the Obama administration announced new sanctions against Russia. While a spokesman for Trump dismissed the phone call as nothing more than a diplomatic formality, sources cited by the Journal say the investigation concerns “repeated contacts” between Flynn and Kislyak, and prior conversations with Russian figures.

CNN reports more details:

US investigators are scrutinizing late December calls between Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, and Russia's ambassador to the US as part of a broader counterintelligence investigation of Russian activities in the US, law enforcement and intelligence officials told CNN.

The calls were captured by routine US eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats, according to the intelligence and law enforcement officials. But the officials said some of the content of the conversation raised enough potential concerns that investigators are still looking into the discussions, amid a broader concern about Russian intelligence-gathering activities in the United States.

The officials all stressed that so far there has been no determination of any wrongdoing.

FBI and intelligence officials briefed members of the Obama White House team before President Barack Obama left office about the Flynn calls to the Russian ambassador, sources said.

At a press briefing Monday, Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said he had discussed the issue with Flynn on Sunday. Spicer said there had been two calls between Flynn and the Russian ambassador and that they covered only four subjects: Setting up a call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin; exchanging holiday greetings; offering condolences for lives lost in a Russian plane crash; and a Syria conference on ISIS.

It's difficult to know where these investigations will go from here, given that Trump now has the power to step on them summarily. If he does, it's likely the leaks will come faster and faster until a river of information which may or may not be accurate hits the front pages of the newspapers.

Stay tuned.

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