You may recall the vehement (and questionable) denials that came out of Mike Pence's mouth about how those phone calls made by General Mike Flynn to the Russian embassy did not concern the sanctions then-President Obama had put on Russia as punishment for their interference in our elections.
At the time, they sounded rather hollow and bizarre.
"I talked to General Flynn yesterday, and the conversations that took place at that time were not in any way related to the new U.S. sanctions against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats," Pence insisted.
Well, it turns out they are hollow and bizarre. The Washington Post reports that Flynn did have conversations about the sanctions.
According to the report, "Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election."
Oops. That is a direct contradiction right there. This story relies upon nine sources inside the government. That's not exactly shaky ground, and here's what they say.
“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, “is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”
Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.↓ Story continues below ↓
All of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.
“Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” said a former official.
Someone -- or nine someones -- inside the intelligence community is/are throwing Gen. Flynn under the bus, and it's just a matter of time before Mike Pence backs it up over him.