WASHINGTON, February 15. /TASS/. Former US national security adviser Michael Flynn said in a Daily Caller interview that he had only had a brief discussion with the Russian ambassador about the 35 Russian diplomats who were expelled by the former US administration last year.
"It wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out," Flynn was quoted as saying. "So that’s what it turned out to be. It was basically, ‘Look, I know this happened. We’ll review everything.’ I never said anything such as, ‘We’re going to review sanctions,’ or anything like that."
At the same time, Flynn said that ultimately he was most concerned about the steady stream of leaks of classified information to the media.
"In some of these cases, you’re talking about stuff that’s taken off of a classified system and given to a reporter. That’s a crime," he said. "You call them leaks. It’s a criminal act. This is a crime. It’s not just a wink and a nod."
Trump accepted Flynn’s resignation Monday, appointing Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg acting national security adviser. "Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology," Flynn said in his resignation letter.
Claims published by the Washington Post earlier suggested Flynn had discussed the US anti-Russian sanctions with the Russian Ambassador in Washington, Sergei Kislyak. The telephone consultations presumably took place a month prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The Washington Post said some officials in the administration thought the talks between the would-be national security adviser and the Russian ambassador might have sent an irrational and theoretically incorrect signal to Moscow and the sanctions, which the Obama administration had introduced in the wake of the 2014 reunification of Crimea and Sevastopol with Russia, could be eased.