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B. The President’s Conduct Concerning the Investigation of Michael Flynn

During the presidential transition, incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had
two phone calls with the Russian Ambassador to the United States about the Russian response to
US. sanctions imposed because of Russia’s election interference. After the press reported on
Flynn’s contacts with the Russian Ambassador, Flynn lied to incoming Administration officials
by saying he had not discussed sanctions on the calls. The officials publicly repeated those lies in
press interviews. The FBI, which previously was investigating Flynn for other matters,
interviewed him about the calls in the first week aftcr the inauguration, and Flynn told similar lies
to the FBI. On January 26, 2017, Department of Justice (DOJ) officials notified the White House
that Flynn and the Russian Ambassador had discussed sanctions and that Flynn had been
interviewed by the FBI. The next night, the President had a private dinner with FBI Director James
Comey in which he asked for Comey’s loyalty. On February 13, 2017, the President asked Flynn
to resign. The following day, the President had a one-on-one conversation with Comey in which
he said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”


1. Incoming National Security Advisor Flynn Discusses Sanctions on Russia with
Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak

Shortly after the election, President-Elect Trump announced he would appoint Michael
Flynn as his National Security Advisor.78 For the next two months, Flynn played an active role on
the Presidential Transition Team (PTT) coordinating policy positions and communicating with
foreign government officials, including Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey

On December 29, 2016, as noted in Volume II, Section II.A.4, supra, the Obama
Administration announced that it was imposing sanctions and other measures on several Russian
individuals and entities.80 That day, multiple members of the PTT exchanged emails about the
sanctions and the impact they would have on the incoming Administration, and Flynn informed
members of the PTT that he would be speaking to the Russian Ambassador later in the dayf‘1

78 Flynn 1 1/16/17 302, at 7; President-Elect Bond/d J. Trump Selects US. Senator Jefl‘Sessions for
Attorney General, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as Assistant to the President for National Security Aflairs and
US. Rep. Mike Pompeo as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, President—Elect Donald J. Trump
Press Release (Nov. 18, 2016); see also, e.g., Bryan Bender, Trump names Mike Flynn national security
adviser, Politico, (Nov. 17, 2016).

79 Flynn 11/16/17 302, at 8-14; Priebus 10/13/17 302, at 3—5.

Statement by the President on Actions in Response to Russian Malicious Cyber Activity and
Harassment, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary (Dec. 29, 2016).

31 12/29/16 Email, O’Brien to McFarland et 211.; 12/29/16 Email, Bossert to Flynn et a1.; 12/29/16
Email, McFarland to Flynn et al.; SF000001 (12/29/16 Text Message, Flynn to Flaherty) (“Tit for tat w
Russia not good. Russian AMBO reaching out to me today”); Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 2.


US. Department ofJustice


Flynn, who was in the Dominican Republic at the time, and K.T. McFarland, who was slated to
become the Deputy National Security Advisor and was at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with
the President-Elect and other senior staff, talked by phone about what, if anything, Flynn should
communicate to Kislyak about the sanctions.82 McFarland had spoken with incoming
Administration officials about the sanctions and Russia’s possible responses and thought she had
mentioned in those conversations that Flynn was scheduled to speak with Kislyak.83 Based on
those conversations, McFarland informed Flynn that incoming Administration officials at Mar-a—
Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation.'4 At 4:43 pm. that afternoon, McFarland sent
an email to several officials about the sanctions and informed the group that “Gen [F]lynn is talking
to russian ambassador this evening.”85

Approximately one hour later, McFarland met with the President-Elect and senior officials
and briefed them on the sanctions and Russia’s possible responses.86 Incoming Chief of Staff
Reince Priebus recalled that McFarland may have mentioned at the meeting that the sanctions
situation could be “cooled down” and not escalated.87 McFarland recalled that at the end of the
meeting, someone may have mentioned to the President-Elect that Flynn was speaking to the
Russian Ambassador that evening.38 McFarland did not recall any response by the President-
Elect.89 Priebus recalled that the President-Elect viewed the sanctions as an attempt by the Obama
Administration to embarrass him by delegitimizing his election.90

Immediately after discussing the sanctions with McFarland on December 29, 2016, Flynn
called Kislyak and requested that Russia respond to the sanctions only in a reciprocal manner,
without escalating the situation.“ After the call, Flynn briefed McFarland on its substance.92
Flynn told McFarland that the Russian response to the sanctions was not going to be escalatory
because Russia wanted a good relationship with the Trump Administration.93 On December 30,
2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would not take retaliatory measures

82 Statement of Offense at 2-3, United States v. Michael T. Flynn, 1:17-cr—232 (D.D.C. Dec. 1,
2017), Doc. 4 (Flynn Statement of Offense); Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 3-4; Flynn 11/20/17 302, at 3;
McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 6—7.

53 McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 4-7 (recalling discussions about this issue with Bannon and Priebus).
M Flynn Statement of Offense, at 3; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 3—4; McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 6-7.
35 12/29/16 Email, McFarland to Flynn et a1.

35 McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 7.

’37 Priebus 1/18/18 302, at 3.

8" McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 7. Priebus thought it was possible that McFarland had mentioned
Flynn’s scheduled call with Kislyak at this meeting, although he was not certain. Priebus 1/18/18 302, at

”9 McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 7.

Priebus 1/18/18 302, at 3.

9‘ Flynn Statement ofOffense, at 3; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 3-4.

92 Flynn Statement of Offense, at 3; McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 7-8; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 4.
93 McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 8.


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in response to the sanctions at that time and would instead “plan . . . further steps to restore Russian-
US relations based on the policies ofthe Trump Administration.”g4 Following that announcement,
the President-Elect tweeted, “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) I always knew he was very

On December 31, 2016, Kislyak called Flynn and told him that Flynn’s request had been
received at the highest levels and Russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to the request.96
Later that day, Flynn told McFarland about this follow-up conversation with Kislyak and Russia’s
decision not to escalate the sanctions situation based on Flynn’s request.97 McFarland recalled
that Flynn thought his phone call had made a difference.” Flynn spoke with other incoming
Administration officials that day, but does not recall whether they discussed the sanctions? "

Flynn recalled discussing the sanctions issue with incoming Administration official
Stephen Bannon the next day.100 Flynn said that Bannon appeared to know about Flynn’s
conversations with Kislyak, and he and Bannon agreed that they had “stopped the train on Russia’s
response” to the sanctionsm On January 3, 2017, Flynn saw the President-Elect in person and
thought they discussed the Russian reaction to the sanctions, but Flynn did not have a specific
recollection of telling the President-Elect about the substance of his calls with Kislyak.102

Members ofthe intelligence community were surprised by Russia’s decision not to retaliate
in response to the sanctions.103 When analyzing Russia’s response, they became aware of Flynn’s
discussion of sanctions with Kislyak.104 Previously, the FBI had opened an investigation of Flynn
based on his relationship with the Russian government.105 Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak became
a key component of that investigation.106

94 Statement by the President ofRussl'a, President of Russia (Dec. 30, 2016) 12/30/16.
95 @realDonaldTrump 12/30/16 (2:41 pm. ET) Tweet.
96 Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 3; Flynn Statement of Offense, at 3.

97 Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 3; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 6; McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 10; Flynn
Statement of Offense, at 3.

9“ McFarland 12/22/17 302, at 10; see Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 4.
99 Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 5-6.

‘00 Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 4-5. Bannon recalled meeting with Flynn that day, but said he did not
remember discussing sanctions with him. Bannon 2/12/18 302, at 9.

1‘“ Flynn 11/21/17 302, at 1; Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 5.

”’2 Flynn 1/19/18 302, at 6; Flynn 11/17/17 302, at 6.

“’3 McCord 7/17/17 302, at 2.

“‘4 McCord 7/17/17 302, at 2.

'05 McCord 7/17/17 302, at 2-3; Comey 11/15/17 302, at 5.
106 McCord 7/17/17 302, at 2—3.


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