WASHINGTON (AP) — The Kremlin says a conversation between President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and the Russian ambassador to the United States did not influence Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to sanctions imposed by Trump’s predecessor.
Former adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about reaching out to Russian officials.
Prosecutors say Flynn in December 2017 asked Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak, “not escalate the situation” after the outgoing Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for suspected election interference.
Just days later, Putin opted not to retaliate. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday it was “absurd” to suggest that the phone conversation could have influenced Putin’s decision and added that “such requests could not have been passed on” to the president.
Trump says he feels “very badly” for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who last week pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
The president says it’s “very unfair” how Flynn has been treated, adding that “it’s like they ruined his life.”
Trump tried to contrast Flynn’s treatment with that of his Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton, whom he says “lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened.”
Trump spoke to reporters on Monday as he departed the White House to head to Utah. Trump fired Flynn for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia.
Flynn left the White House in February after acknowledging that he had given an incomplete account to Pence about his contacts regarding Russia. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about reaching out to the Russians on Trump’s behalf.
He is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.