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Trump Adviser Had 5 Calls with Russian Envoy on Day of Sanctions

The other two sources, however, said the timing of the calls raised a question about whether Flynn had given Kislyak any assurances to soothe Russian anger over the U.S. moves.

If that were the case, it would have raised a possible entanglement with the Logan Act. The 1799 law bars unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments with which the United States has disputes. It is aimed at preventing the undermining of official U.S. government positions.

Alexey Mosin, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Washington, said: "The Embassy does not comment on multiple contacts, which are carried out on a daily basis with local interlocutors."

Flynn raised eyebrows among some U.S. foreign policy veterans when he was pictured sitting at the head table with Putin at a banquet in Moscow in late 2015 celebrating Russia Today, an international broadcasting network funded by the Russian government.

However, Flynn has also expressed skepticism about Moscow's intentions - a view that does not seem to fit Trump's vision of closer ties with Moscow.

Classified documents that the heads of four US intelligence agencies presented last week to Trump included unsubstantiated information compiled by a private security firm suggesting Moscow had compromising personal and financial details about Trump. Trump called a dossier that contains salacious claims about him in Russia "fake news" and "phony stuff."

One of the sources said the US actions "took the Russians by surprise." Russian officials threatened to shutter the Anglo-American School of Moscow, the source said. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed tit-for-tat expulsions.

But on Dec. 30, Putin announced that he would not retaliate. Trump praised Putin for the decision, writing in a Twitter post, "Great move on delay (by V.Putin). I always knew he was very smart!"

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer earlier Friday said Flynn and Kislyak had spoken on Dec. 28, the day before Washington announced the expulsions and sanctions.

But a Trump official acknowledged later in the day that they held one conversation on Dec. 29 about setting up a telephone call between Trump and Putin after Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was aware of only one phone call between the two that day and did not know if they spoke again since.

After the Nov. 8 election, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run Interfax news agency that the Russian government was in touch with members of Trump's political team during the U.S. election campaign and knew most of his entourage.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Trump declined to answer whether anyone connected to him or the campaign had contact with Moscow during the campaign and said he had no loans or business deals with or in Russia, Reuters reported.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday said it remained unclear whether such a call between Flynn and the Russian ambassador would be objectionable

Source: Al Alam News Network


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