Idea that Flynn could ask anything of Russia or Putin 'absurd,' says Kremlin
“Flynn was in no position to request anything of Sergey Ivanovich [Kislyak, Russia’s former US ambassador] let alone to expect any requests to be relayed to Vladimir Putin – the whole thing is completely absurd,” said the Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov during a media briefing in Moscow.
In his capacity as part of Donald Trump’s transition team, following Trump’s victory in last November’s presidential election, Flynn has admitted lying to the FBI over the nature of his contact with the Russian diplomat.
The US security services say that he lied when he told them earlier this year that he did not ask Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions” adopted by the outgoing administration last December, which included the expulsion of 35 diplomats.
In the end Russia did postpone its response, but Peskov says that “the decision was taken by Putin alone, and cannot be attributed to any requests or recommendations.”
“What information Putin receives from his ambassadors is of no concern to anyone else,” said Peskov. “The Russian president makes all decisions independently on the basis, as he has said many times, of Russia’s national interest.”
The purported contents of Flynn’s phone exchanges with Kislyak were monitored by American intelligence agencies, and he was interviewed by the FBI in January, although the retired US Army general was not charged at that time. The following month, Flynn resigned and admitted that he had provided “incomplete information” about his dealings with the Russian envoy to Vice President Mike Pence.
Donald Trump insists that there was no reason for Flynn to mislead the authorities.
“I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 2 December 2017
On Monday, the US President accused the FBI of "ruining" Flynn's life.
"I feel badly for General Flynn. I feel very badly. He's led a very strong life, and I feel very badly," he told the media prior to boarding the presidential plane to Utah.
Flynn has entered into a plea agreement with Robert Mueller, who is leading a wider federal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, and the current administration’s links with the Kremlin.
As a result of the bargain, in which he may have incriminated other White House officials, Mueller has recommended that Flynn should face between zero and six months in prison, and a fine of no more than $9,500.