The Trump Team Covered Up Flynn’s Calls in Real Time

I’ve been asked to write a summary of the Mike Flynn case. This will be a series covering the following topics:

  • Proof that Flynn and others were trying to hide his calls in real time
  • The basis for the investigation into Flynn
  • Known details of the investigation
  • Bill Barr’s efforts to dismantle the Flynn prosecution

Jared Kushner and KT McFarland lie in real time about Flynn’s calls

To understand the circumstances behind the Mike Flynn investigation, prosecution, Barr interference, then pardon, it helps to understand that Flynn and others built cover stories, in real time, both of the times that their efforts to get Russia to help them undermine President Obama’s policies succeeded.

For example, on December 22, after receiving a tip from a Senate staffer, Jared Kushner called Flynn and “directed [him] to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood” on an Egyptian resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements, asking that they delay the vote or condemn the resolution. At about the same time, Trump tweeted a statement calling for a veto of the measure. Shortly after Jared’s call and Trump’s tweet, Flynn called Sergey Kislyak, then called an Egyptian contact, then spoke to Kislyak, then called the Egyptian contact several more times. After those calls, Trump and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke, after which el-Sisi released a statement withdrawing the UN motion, describing a call with Trump in which, “They have agreed to lay the groundwork for the new administration to drive the establishment of a true peace between the Arabs and the Israelis.” After that statement, Jared pushed to release a statement falsely claiming the Egyptians initiated the calls.

Can we make it clear that Al Sisi reached out to DJT so it doesn’t look like we reached out to intercede? This happens to be the true fact patter and better for this to be out there.

The Transition spokesperson ultimately did release a statement falsely claiming that, “Mr. Sisi initiated the call.”

Jared hid the real sequence of their intercession in real time.

The Trump Administration continues to hide the substance of Flynn’s call with Russia that day. Although Ric Grenell had most of the transcripts of Flynn’s calls with Sergey Kislyak released, he had his December 22 call transcript withheld. The transcript from a call that Kislyak initiated the following day, however, shows that after consulting with “the highest level in Russia,” Kislyak conveyed to Flynn that Russia would push for more consultations that would delay the vote.

Kislyak: Uh, I just wanted as a follow up to share with you several points. One, that, uh, your previous, uh, uh, telephone call, I reported to Moscow and it was considered at the highest level in Russia. Secondly, uh, uh, here were are pointing, uh, taking into account, uh, entirely your, uh arguments.

Flynn: Yes.

Kislyak: To raise a proposal or an idea of continued consultations in New York. We will do it.

Notably, at the end of December 22, KT McFarland was happy to claim credit privately for Flynn’s success at delaying a vote, noting that he, “worked it all day with trump from Mara lago,” suggesting that Trump was closely coordinating with Flynn — and possibly even listened in on — his call with the Russian Ambassador. That’s one of the calls that Flynn would lie about months later when questioned by the FBI. McFarland would even go on to liken this effort to Richard Nixon’s effort to undermine Vietnamese peace talks and Ronald Reagan’s efforts to delay the release of Iranian hostages.

The other call Flynn lied about months later served to hide coordination at Mar-a-Lago, too. On that call, Sergey Kislyak reached out to Flynn after President Obama announced sanctions; he had a list of three non-sanctions issues he used to explain his call, issues that would have all been appropriate to discuss as part of Transition. After the third, Flynn broke in and asked Kislyak to convey a request that Russia not box “us” in, a request that, given Kislyak’s response, Flynn must have already made once.

Flynn: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I understand. Okay, um, okay. Listen, uh, a couple of things. Number one, what I would ask you guys to do — and make sure you, make sure that you convey this, okay? — do not, do not uh, allow this administration to box us in, right now, okay? Um —

Kislyak: We have conveyed it. And–

Then Flynn — not Kislyak — raised Obama’s sanctions, reflecting knowledge that they included expulsions.

Flynn: Yeah.

Kislyak: It’s, uh, it’s uh, very very specifically and transparently, openly.

Flynn: So, you know, depending on, depending on what uh, actions they take over this current issue of the cyber stuff, you know, where they’re looking like they’re gonna, they’re gonna dismiss some number of Russians out of the country, I understand all that and I understand that, that, you know, the information. that they have and all that, but what I would ask Russia to do is to not — is — is — if anything — because I know you have to have some sort of action — to, to only make it reciprocal. Make it reciprocal. Don’t — don’t make it — don’t go any further than you have to. Because I don’t want us to get into something that has to escalate, on a, you know, on a tit for tat. You follow me, Ambassador?

Flynn was on vacation in Dominican Republic when he made this call. He would later claim — an uncharged lie — that he “was not aware of the then-upcoming actions [against Russia] as he did not have access to television news in the Dominican Republic and his government BlackBerry was not working … he did not know the expulsions were coming.” As noted, that was a lie. He did know. We know several of the ways he learned about the sanctions. McFarland’s assistant, Sarah Flaherty, sent Flynn a NYT article on the sanctions. Flynn and McFarland spoke about how to respond to sanctions at least once before Flynn’s call. Most remarkably, after McFarland learned that Flynn would be speaking with the Russian Ambassador, McFarland spoke to Trump’s soon-to-be Homeland Security Czar Tom Bossert, he went to speak with his counterpart Lisa Monaco, and then Bossert emailed out some feedback he had learned from Monaco, including that the Russians were threatening to retaliate for the expulsions. So Flynn not only knew of Obama’s planned sanctions, he even knew part of what the Obama Administration knew about the Russian response to sanctions when be broached the subject with Russia.

Flynn’s lying about his foreknowledge of the sanctions (and therefore his coordination with Mar-a-Lago) would come later. But establishing a cover story came the next day, after Russia announced it would take no retaliatory action. Flynn had told McFarland the previous evening about his call with Kislyak, including that he had raised sanctions. But after Putin announced he would not retaliate (and Trump tweeted out his approval), McFarland forwarded a Flynn text to key transition staffers with a summary of Flynn’s call that made no mention of sanctions. Significantly, she sent it exclusively to official Transition email accounts, including those of Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, even though a key warrant application shows that Bannon and Kushner generally appear not to have used their Transition email accounts for foreign policy discussions. Flynn would eventually tell Mueller’s team that he purposely did not include sanctions in the text McFarland forwarded to others because, “it would be perceived as getting in the way of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.” Given the way McFarland selectively chose to include all foreign policy advisors on some emails and just Kushner and Bannon on others, and given an earlier disagreement between Transition team members about whether it was even proper to conduct such outreach with Russia, such selective reporting on Flynn’s calls may have had an additional goal, beyond just creating an affirmatively false record in case Obama’s team ever saw the emails. The email may have served to keep some Transition team members in the dark — as even Vice President Mike Pence remained in the dark weeks later.

However broad the intent, there is documentary evidence that for both calls about which Flynn would later lie to the FBI, Transition team members who also knew of the calls helped to cover them up in real time. Weeks before the FBI ever came calling, then, Flynn and others were already lying about these calls.

46 replies
  1. Rugger9 says:

    Well, every time this evidence drops it becomes harder for any rational person to believe Flynn and DJT had the best interest of the country in mind when working these deals with the Russians, and undermining the Obama Administration was the cherry on top for DJT.

    Unless these specific lies are covered in the as-yet-unreleased pardon Flynn can still be prosecuted for them. I suspect Flynn’s pardon is a blanket one but we await the entry into the docket.

  2. Ruthie says:

    Utterly damning, of course. Still, there are plenty who refuse to acknowledge the existence of “facts” or “truth”, making such details easily ignored.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Perhaps there is an agreement to turn state’s evidence we do not know about yet. Since AG Barr took over, I’m sure whatever evidence she did cough up (and I don’t rule out her performing like Flynn did) is buried and/or shredded.

      She’s another person that needs to be hauled out in front of the House committee.

    • jonf says:

      Me too. I wonder if I would be so lucky to lie about matters I should know about a few times to the FBI and get away with it.

  3. square1 says:

    Serious question. Why does anyone take Glenn Greenwald seriously at this point? Greenwald is now reduced to parroting the most nonsensical of defenses of Flynn and claiming the investigation into Flynn was a partisan attack.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      His positions are now so extreme and with such little foundation, that I assume he’s followed as a matter of faith. He’s become a journalist-demagogue. He, Taibbi and Mate form a triumvirate, whose supporters would follow them to the galleys or the mines of Carthage.

    • graham firchlis says:

      Serious reply.

      Best explanation is “Cult of Personality,” a phenomenon most often restricted in the past to national tyrants and religious leaders who were able to control means of communication. The ascent of modern diffuse media options has resulted in the emergence of substantive personality cults around relatively minor leaders, Greenwald among them.

      Also consider the thesis of “Devoted Actor” advanced by Scott Atran and colleagues, linked to in the general discussion article referenced below.

      [WARNING: Content of the article cited below may discomfit some readers. Ingest at your own emotional risk.]

      • MB says:

        That’s a reasonable article. Although I see vast differences between Bernie Bros and the MAGA folks. Bernie has too much humility to be a “good” cult leader, despite the cult-like devotion of some of his followers. The MAGA fanatics are in for a penny and a pound and well beyond.

        Whereas, Trump, ever the demagogue, and GG, a hybrid “journalist-demagogue” (as EOH terms it) both exhibit the behavioral tendencies of needing to be right all of the time.

        GG is much more minor-league in this respect – I don’t think he could shoot somebody on 5th Ave. and get away with it, whereas DJT has already shown us (short of actual murder) that he can and will.

        • J R in WV says:

          “Bernie has too much humility to be a “good” cult leader…”

          Say WHAT? Bernie has too much humility? I… I’m left speechless. Now we all know what it takes to leave me speechless…

      • Vicks says:

        Once out of office, how will Trump be legally protected from slander, defamation and all the other troubles most people would get into for the lies and verbal attacks that comes out of his mouth?
        I heard Trump is thinking of hosting a maga rally during Bidens inauguration. If he declares he is running in 2020 does that make him a politician again?

  4. Terry Sawyer says:

    A Republican admitted St. Ronald committed treason? Your recap: “Ronald Reagan’s efforts to delay the release of Iranian hostages.” Is not an accurate statement of the notes you cited.

    • SC says:

      If you follow the link in the post (to documents from the Mueller report FOIA), you’ll find this:

      “McFarland believed the sorts of things Flynn did were not unusual. She cited . . . Ronald Reagan’s purported dealings with Iran to free American hostages . . . ”

      The summary goes on to say “during their transitions” (referring to Nixon and Reagan) but, ahem, I don’t think anyone accuses Nixon or Reagan of backdoor negotiations during their transitions. Both events are notable largely because they apparently happened before their respective transitions. Maybe McFarland was trying to hedge. Dunno. However, the summary “McFarland would even go on to liken this effort to . . . Ronald Reagan’s efforts to delay the release of Iranian hostages.” looks accurate to me.

  5. Bay State Librul says:

    Maybe it’s symbolic that Flynn’s Pardon is ordered as the dark winter sets in.

    As writer Nina MacLaughlin explains,

    “Dark makes its annual inhale of light. It seems night all the time now, and it’ll keep getting nighter as we spin toward the solstice on December twenty-first. If you follow the meteorological calendar, tomorrow, December one, is the first day of winter. If you follow the astrological calendar, calibrated by the position of the sun, winter begins at eight thirty in the morning on December twenty-first, when the earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted farthest away from the sun, when we’re delivered the longest night of the year. These are lampposts to string your lights around, ways of managing your time, systems to agree and believe in. There are other winter signals.”

  6. Chris.EL says:

    Regarding bay state librul,
    IMVHO I view Trump’s actions in the light of his inveterate cowardice, maneuvers to evade accountability, and to give a giant, gotta-be-flamboyant middle finger gesture to incoming president and everybody else.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if Trump had some sense of appreciation, awe, or ability to experience the wonders of our precious planet and accomplishments of humans on the earth…
    IANAL. What does Kagan mean by: “You’re 30 days out!”

    From Twitter, Mark Joseph Stern:
    …”Kagan asks if Trump will exclude 700,000 DACA recipients from the census apportionment count. Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall won’t tell her. Kagan asks about the 3.2 million non-detained individuals in removal proceedings. Wall won’t tell her. Kagan: “You’re 30 days out!” …

    • Peterr says:

      The Census Bureau is supposed to report their final numbers on Dec 31, 2020 – about 30 days out, plus or minus a couple of holidays. Kagan is asking, rather incredulously, “You’re damn near finished with the report, and you can’t tell me whether you are including these people?”

      • Chris.EL says:

        Thank you for the insight!! I tried googling first, but received computer logic; humans are much better.

        Thanks also to Marcy for her dogged attentions to details!

        • skua says:

          Google search is now successfully delivering monetised results, to the near complete exclusion of non-standard returns. The www has been turned into a way to enable consumption. Knowledge and facts are obstacles to this approach.

  7. harpie says:

    WHOever asked Marcy to do this summary definitely knew the right WHOM to ask!
    …very much looking forward to this series. Thanks, Marcy!

    • posaune says:

      Yes! I was wondering who is the smart one who requested the summary from Marcy!
      I’m really appreciative!

  8. Anne says:

    Thank you for this primer on a confusing topic, but I’m still confused.

    Please help with this conversation:
    Right-wing friend: “It was totally appropriate for Flynn to talk with Kislyak about anything during the Transition.”
    Me, dumb answer: “If the topic was appropriate, why did they all lie about it?”
    Me, smart answer: “It would have been OK to talk about X or Y but not sanctions because ….”

    Marcy says “he (Flynn or Kislyak?) had a list of three non-sanctions issues he used to explain his call.”
    Hypothetical examples of appropriate topics? Where to draw the line?

    One could assert that any conversation with any world leader during any Transition would boil down to “we’re going to do things differently, just wait.” So, … help!

    • DannyBurntMusic says:

      Hi Anne,

      IANAL, but this argument from your right-wing friend is pretty easy to debunk. It is a crime for unauthorized American citizens to negotiate to undermine official government policy ( So it’s perfectly fine to talk to the ambassador of country X about various diplomatic matters, but illegal to actively undermine official US policy.

      Remember, the Obama Administration put those sanctions in place as a response to Russian interference in the 2016 election! As the incoming National Security Advisor you might think Flynn would be bothered by a foreign county messing with our election… but no.

      So the question to your friend is why would Trump order Flynn to work to undermine sanctions for Russian election interference? If they wanted to change direction on Russia policy, why not wait until they are officially in-charge? Why risk an apparent violation of the Logan Act? And as you correctly point out — why lie about it, in real time, and work to keep it a secret from even the Vice President??

      The answers are in the pages of this blog, and in the Muller Report, and in the public charging documents… but the short answer is simple: they were doing some seriously shady corrupt stuff that couldn’t be burdened by things like the law.

  9. madwand says:

    A little off topic but the flamethrower, Sydney Powell has obtained an injunction to prohibit Georgia voting machines in three counties from being erased, 2 of which went for Biden and 1 which went for Trump. The order is temporary and you can read it here.

    As most are aware there have been two recounts verifying the original vote totals, a hand count and then a machine count both of which turned out in Biden’s favor and vote was certified and signed by the Governor. The contention is the Dominion voting machines were hacked into and vote totals were changed, to be continued on Friday when there is an in person hearing.

  10. Rugger9 says:

    And, there it is…the pardon which is of course sweeping. It is a pardon:

    for the charge of making false statements to Federal investigators, in violation of Section 1001, Title 18, United States Code, as charged in the Information filed under docket number 1:1 7-CR-00232-EGS in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia; for any and all possible offenses arising from the facts set forth in the Information and Statement of Offense filed under that docket number or that might arise, or be charged, claimed, or asserted, in connection with the proceedings under that docket number; for any and all possible offenses within the investigatory authority or jurisdiction of the Special Counsel appointed on May 17,2017, including the initial Appointment Order No. 3915-2017 and subsequent memoranda regarding the Special Counsel’s investigatory authority; and for any and all possible offenses arising out of facts and circumstances known to, identified by, or in any manner related to the investigation of the Special Counsel, including, but not limited to, any grand jury proceedings in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

    So, what’s not covered here, really? Maybe stuff tied to the RT trip.

    • Chris.EL says:

      here’s a Twitter account that’s interesting; his assessment is notable:
      Comments by:
      “The Hoarse Whisperer
      I’d be interested in reading legal takes on whether this pardon immunizes Flynn from charges for offenses known to investigators prior to Mueller’s appointment.

      The language suggests Flynn is pardoned for anything Mueller even heard about… which is corrupt as hell.”
      * * * *
      “Opening Arguments

      the text of Flynn’s pardon see @MuellerSheWrote

      • Chris.EL says:

        as I was looking over John Brennan’s Twitter, some of his thoughts on Trump’s presidency and (my term) idiocy, etc.

        This thought popped into my head: *what if* a subsequent president of the United States moves to **rescind** a pardon granted by a previous president? I wonder if it could be done?

    • Franktoo says:

      “the pardon which is of course sweeping”.

      I doubt this stops with Flynn. From the Trumpian perspective, the entire Russia collusion investigation was unjustified and improper. AG Barr certainly believes this. So, why not pardon everyone caught up in the investigation using the similar language? Everyone who unnecessarily had dirt dug up about them to induce them to cooperate? Everyone caught lying in an investigation that resulted in no convictions for the alleged wrongdoing that initiated the investigation? Most Americans wrongly have little support for convicting people of lying when they were not convicted of other wrongdoing. See Bill Clinton, for example. Most Americans don’t spend much time inside courtrooms where they can more easily recognize that we can’t have justice when witnesses routinely lie under oath.

      Therefore I predict that Trump will eventually pardon everyone investigated under the authorization of the Special Counsel – including himself and his family. (Unfortunately for the vindictive Trump, that would also include the RATS who cooperated.) Too many Republicans and ordinary Americans have swallowed the BIG LIE that the investigation into collusion was the result of the Democrat-inspired Steele Dossier. Such allegations are still printed almost daily and have not been publicly rebutted by Democrats or the MSM since the Mueller Report was issued (and then sabotaged by Barr).

      Someone once said: When the legend becomes truth, print the legend. Is it ever going to be possible for me (or any Democrat) to converse with a Republican without the legend? We are burdened with so many such legends on both sides going back to at least Bork. To bring peace, traitors were pardoned after the Civil War and the Whiskey Rebellion, and draft dodgers after Vietnam. Many historians now laud Ford’s pardon of Nixon. IF I expected Trump’s future pardons would bring peace, maybe they would be tolerable. And I’d accept almost anything, if we could re-establish the principle that Congress can compel testimony from administration officials (except about confidential advice), and that a president can be guilty of obstruction of justice when exercising his constitutional powers, and can’t pardon when he has a conflict of interest.

      On the other hand, the last three South Korean presidents went to jail, as did Berlusconni, four out of the last seven Illinois governors, and since 2000, 19 Congressmen, 9 from executive branch and four judges (according to Wikipedia). Why shouldn’t I long for the triumph of truth, justice and sweet revenge?

  11. viget says:

    Not a lawyer…but this seems too broad to me. Instead of time limiting it, they’re subject matter limiting it. For example, tomorrow Flynn could commit an overt act (legal or illegal) that would place him into a conspiracy to defraud the US with one of the Mueller investigation subjects. Just because it has something to do with the Mueller investigation, it’s pardonable? Even though the crime was committed after the pardon?

    I would also note that the EDVA GJ clause also gives him an out not just on FARA with Turkey, but on any possible conspiracy charges with WL or Assange on the hunt for Hillary’s emails.

    On the flip side, seems like now would be an opportune time to haul him in front of GJ’s and Congressional committees since he can’t plead the fifth to any of this now.

  12. x174 says:

    mt–nice, clean, easy-to-read copy of your first installment of the flynn-trump sellout. i like the way that you foregrounded the role of kt mcfarland and her two-step re-direction duplicity. the bannon kushner non-use of their transition emails was a great point in light of the hrc email lollapalooza extravaganza in which that grim era was sadly imbued. thanks!

  13. Mitch Neher says:

    Ms. Wheeler wrote “. . . Flynn and others built cover stories, in real time, both of the times that their efforts to get Russia to help them undermine President Obama’s policies succeeded.”

    How many unsuccessful efforts to get Russia to help Flynn and others undermine Obama’s policies were there?

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