Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told FBI agents that he did not discuss sanctions against Russia with the country’s ambassador prior to President Trump’s inauguration — contradicting information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The denial could put Flynn at risk of a legal charge — lying to the FBI is a felony — but the decision to prosecute would rest with Trump's Justice Department. The Post's report cites current and former officials.
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE has so far rebuffed calls that he recuse himself from any investigation involving contact between Trump associates and Russia.
Flynn stepped down Monday night following revelations that he misled Vice President Pence about the contents of a series of calls to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
For weeks, he had publicly claimed that the subject of sanctions did not come up.
On Jan. 26, two days after the FBI's interview with Flynn, then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates informed White House counsel Douglas McGahn about the true contents of the call, warning him that officials were concerned Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia over the discrepancy.
The transcripts of the call have become a fierce point of contention on Capitol Hill, where the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are both investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election — including contact between campaign officials and the Russian government.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffCIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit MORE (D-Calif.) have demanded a full briefing on the matter from the Director of National Intelligence, including unredacted copies of the transcripts, by the end of the month.
In the Senate, the leaders of the Judiciary Committee — Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Voting rights and Senate wrongs Swalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Eight senators ask Biden to reverse course on Trump-era solar tariffs Lawmakers in both parties to launch new push on Violence Against Women Act MORE (D-Calif.) — have also demanded a briefing and copies of the transcripts from Sessions and FBI Director James Comey.
Trump on Monday defended the embattled former general, arguing that he was simply "doing his job" by making the phone calls to Russia.
"Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn't doing it," Trump said.
Flynn was fired "because of what he said" to Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceManchin, Collins leading talks on overhauling election law, protecting election officials Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview Pences' pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, dies MORE about the contents of the call, Trump said.
Updated at 7:38 p.m.