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Michael Flynn unlikely to face charges for lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation, sources say

23 February 2017

The Washington Post was the first to report the communication between former acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, and the Trump White House.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, continue to stonewall any investigation of Russia's influence over the Trump administration.

The FBI interview, as well as the DOJ warning to the White House, suggest Trump was keeping on Flynn as his adviser and continuing to give him access to privileged national security information all while knowing something untoward had happened.

The New York Times reported that United States intelligence agents intercepted calls showing that members of Trump's 2016 campaign had repeated contacts with top Russian intelligence officials in the year preceding the November 8 presidential election. On Thursday, Trump said he would issue a new version of the order next week.

Flynn's resignation is not the end of the story. But Flynn told members of the Trump transition team, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, that he had exchanged only holiday greetings and other nonpolicy chit-chat with the ambassador.

The New York Times said that the Russians made contact with Paul Manafort, who briefly served as President Trump's campaign chairman.

Russian lawmakers were more direct in trying to defend President Trump.

Rather than go along with Democrats' call for an independent outside investigation, Senate Republicans insisted Tuesday that the Intelligence Committee could look at the circumstances as part of an existing probe into Russia's interference in the presidential election.

US intelligence agencies previously concluded that Russian Federation hacked and leaked Democratic emails during the election campaign as part of efforts to tilt the vote in Trump's favor.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the "erosion of that trust" over the circumstances surrounding retired Gen. Michael Flynn's calls with the Russian ambassador to the US created "a critical mass and an unsustainable situation".

Intelligence agencies now overseen by Trump may not be ideally suited to the job, they added.

Rockets fired into southern Israel from Egypt's Sinai
The February launches were the first time since 2015 that rockets had been fired at Israel from Egypt. Egypt is one of just two Arab countries that have signed a peace treaty with the Jewish state.

As for his inner circle, Trump is also expected to soon name a new national security adviser following this week's ouster of Michael Flynn, who the White House said had misled Vice President Mike Pence about Flynn's contacts with Russian Federation. Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said Pence became aware that he had received "incomplete information" from Flynn only after the first Washington Post report Thursday night.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

President Trump has faced multiple leaks of information about his calls with foreign leaders.

The FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies continue to try to determine what the motive for the communications were. White House Press secretary Sean Spicer points as he answers questions from members of the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. Trump, instead, has been critical of leaks to the media.

Spicer on Tuesday also denied there had been any contact between any member of Trump's campaign team and Russian Federation.

Peskov echoed Zakharova's remarks and added that President Putin has been patient about explaining to his counterparts that the people of Crimea asked to join Russian Federation due to their fears about the new government in Ukraine, and would keep delivering this message to the White House, too. As early as last week, he and aides began making contingency plans for Flynn's dismissal, a senior administration official said.

"Despite what the Trump White House puts forth to distract us, we can not lose sight of the broader context of the Trump administration's ties to our enemy Russian Federation and its brutal dictator, Vladimir Putin", said Moulton, an Iraq War veteran who serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

Trump is said to favor Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL, according to a White House official. It was not immediately clear if Harward, a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, had accepted the offer, according to sources.

The White House has said Trump asked for Flynn's resignation because he had misled Vice President Mike Pence over his dealings with Russian Federation and whether he had discussed sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the USA before Trump's January 20 inauguration.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the Times report, which the Kremlin dismissed as groundless.

Michael Flynn unlikely to face charges for lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation, sources say