This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Transcripts of phone calls that were pivotal to the U.S. investigation of Russia’s 2016 election interference have been declassified and released by Republican senators.
One transcript shows that Michael Flynn, as an adviser to then-President-elect Donald Trump, urged Russia’s ambassador to be “even-keeled” in response to punitive measures imposed by President Barack Obama’s administration.
That transcript is dated December 29, 2016 — the day the Obama administration announced it was expelling 35 alleged Russian intelligence operatives from the United States.
The transcript shows that Flynn told the Russian ambassador thst “we can have a better conversation” about U.S.-Russian relations after Trump became president.
Democrats say the transcripts show Flynn lied to the FBI when he denied details of the conversation, and that he was undercutting a sitting president while communicating about sanctions with a country that had just interfered in the 2016 election.
But allies of President Trump maintain the FBI had no reason to investigate Flynn in the first place. They insist the transcripts show he didn’t do anything wrong.
The transcripts were released on May 29 after being provided to the Senate by Trump’s new national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe.
They are unlikely to significantly reshape public understanding of the contact between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Partisan divisions over the case have intensified during the past month with the U.S. Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the prosecution.