Russian officials in 2016 are said to have boasted that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, then an adviser to the Trump campaign, would become an asset for influencing a potential Trump administration, according to CNN.
Flynn’s ties to Russian officials have been under scrutiny for months, and these intercepted communications suggest that the Russians themselves can corroborate the suggestion of improper collusion:
“This was a five-alarm fire from early on,” one former Obama administration official said, “the way the Russians were talking about him.” Another former administration official said Flynn was viewed as a potential national security problem.
The conversations picked up by US intelligence officials indicated the Russians regarded Flynn as an ally, sources said. That relationship developed throughout 2016, months before Flynn was caught on an intercepted call in December speaking with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak. That call, and Flynn’s changing story about it, ultimately led to his firing as Trump’s first national security adviser.
Officials cautioned, however, that the Russians might have exaggerated their sway with Trump’s team during those conversations.
Flynn’s lawyer declined to comment.
An ongoing FBI investigation into the exact nature of Flynn’s relationship with the Russians is ongoing, despite reported attempts by Trump to obstruct its course, as well as the refusal of his White House to cooperate fully with congressional inquiries into the matter.