Trump team, Rus­sia had fre­quent con­tact

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - WORLD NEWS - Julie Pace

WASHINGTON — The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is aware of fre­quent con­tacts be­tween U. S. pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn and Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador to the U.S., in­clud­ing on the day Pres­i­dent Barack Obama hit Moscow with sanc­tions in re­tal­i­a­tion for elec­tion-re­lated hack­ing, a se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial said Fri­day.

One day af­ter Obama an­nounced the sanc­tions and ex­pelled dozens of Rus­sian of­fi­cials from the U.S., Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said he did not plan to re­tal­i­ate.

Trump, who has been com­pli­men­tary of Putin, praised the Rus­sian leader’s de­ci­sion.

It’s not un­usual for in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tions to have dis­cus­sions with for­eign gov­ern­ments be­fore tak­ing of­fice. But the mul­ti­ple con­tacts on Dec. 29 — the day Obama im­posed sanc­tions — would raise ques­tions about whether Trump’s team dis­cussed Rus­sia’s re­sponse.

Trump tran­si­tion spokesman Sean Spicer said Flynn and Am­bas­sador Sergey Kislyak spoke on the phone around the time of the sanc­tions an­nounce­ment, al­though Spicer said the con­ver­sa­tion hap­pened a day ear­lier, on Dec. 28.

“The call cen­tred around the lo­gis­tics of set­ting up a call with the pres­i­dent of Rus­sia and the pres­i­dent- elect af­ter he was sworn in, and they ex­changed lo­gis­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion on how to ini­ti­ate and sched­ule that call,” Spicer told re­porters Fri­day. “That was it, plain and sim­ple.”

The of­fi­cial who spoke to the As­so­ci­ated Press was not au­tho­rized to con­firm the con­tacts pub­licly and in­sisted on anonymity.

The of­fi­cial said Flynn and Kislyak have also been in con­tact at other times.

Spicer said they ex­changed Christ­mas greet­ings via text over the hol­i­days.

It’s un­clear how U.S. of­fi­cials be­came aware of the con­tacts be­tween Flynn and Kislyak, who has served as Rus­sia’s en­voy to the U.S. since 2008. U.S. mon­i­tor­ing of Rus­sian of­fi­cials’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion within the U.S. is known to be com­mon.

Flynn has spo­ken with other for­eign of­fi­cials since Trump won the Novem­ber elec­tion, as have in­com­ing White House se­nior ad­vis­ers Steve Ban­non and Jared Kush­ner, Trump’s son-in-law.

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