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Newly Released Transcripts of Flynn/Kislyak Phone Calls Show Nothing Nefarious

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe on Friday sent declassified transcripts of former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s phone calls with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Congress.

The calls, which took place during the presidential transition period from Dec. 22, 2016 through January of 2017, show that Flynn was concerned about an escalation of hostilities between the two countries after the United States expelled 35 Russian diplomats. The two also discussed Middle East policy at length and working together to defeat a common enemy: radical Islamists. There was nothing discussed in the phone calls, according to the summary, that would have given Obama-era government snoops reason to believe Flynn was treacherously “colluding” or “conspiring” with Russia.

“As I stated throughout the confirmation process, transparency is vital to allowing the American people to have confidence in the Intelligence Community,” Ratcliffe, who was sworn in on Tuesday, said in a press release.

“As the Director of National Intelligence, it is my obligation to review declassification requests with the overarching priority of protecting sources and methods, while also providing transparency whenever possible. Accordingly, today the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified transcripts concerning Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn,” he said.

In a letter to Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Ratcliffe wrote: “In response to bipartisan requests regarding the LTG Michael Flynn (Retired) transcripts, please find the enclosed declassified documents.” Mark Warner (D-Va.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), along with Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) were cc’ed on the letter.

During the call on Dec. 22, 2016, Flynn and Kislyak talked about the “strategic goal” of “stability in the Middle East.”

“That’s the strategic goal,” Flynn said. “You know, between Moscow and Washington, We will not achieve stability in the Middle East without working with each other against this radical Islamist crowd. Period. I am very adamant about that and I want to make sure that you know that and in the conversations that we’ll have in the future…if there is a common threat that we face.”

In response, Kislyak told Flynn: “I agree with you.” The two wished each other a Merry Christmas and said that “both can call each other any time,” according to Fox.

The pair continued to discuss Middle East policy in a Dec. 29, 2016 phone call.

“The Russians are very interested with working with the President-elect’s team to help peace process in Syria,” the summary said.

Flynn said he wanted “to convey the following to Moscow: Do not allow this administration to box us in right now!” according to the summary.

Kislyak said in response: “they have conveyed it very clearly.”

Flynn went on to say that “depending on what actions they take over this current issue of cyber stuff, where they are looking like they are going to dismiss some number of Russians out of the country.”

According to the transcript, he added: “But [what] I ask Russia to do is to not, if anything, I know you have to have some sort of action, to only make it reciprocal; don’t go any further than you have to because I don’t want us to get into something that have to escalate to tit-for-tat. Do you follow me?”

Kislyak answered that he understood what Flynn was saying, but noted that sentiments were “raging” in Moscow.

Flynn, according to the summary, responded, “I know! Believe me I do! I very much appreciate it! But I really do not want us to get into the situation where we everybody goes back and forth and everybody had to be a tough guy here. We don’t need that right now. We need cool heads to prevail. And we need to be very steady about what we are going to do because we have absolutely a common threat in the Middle East.”

The retired general said that U.S. and Russia  “definitely have a common enemy. You have a problem with it. We have a problem with it in this country and we definitely have a problem with it in the Middle East.”

He added: “Remember Ambassador, you are not talking to a diplomat; you are talking to a soldier. I am a very practical guy. It is all about solutions. ”

Kislyak, according to the summary, said he was “looking for an opportunity to have a longer conversation.” Flynn said “maybe the end of next week.”

After enduring months of prosecutorial abuse,  Flynn in December of 2017 pleaded guilty for making false statements to the FBI about his conversations with Kislyak. In January of 2020, he sought to withdraw his plea on the advice of his new counsel Sidney Powell.