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Timeline: U.S. prosecutors lay out Flynn's dealings with Russian ambassador
December 1, 2017 / 9:37 PM / in 13 days

Timeline: U.S. prosecutors lay out Flynn's dealings with Russian ambassador

(Reuters) - The legal document charging Michael Flynn with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation lays out a chronology of events connected with the offense that the former U.S. national security adviser pleaded guilty to on Friday.

Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn departs after a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Here is a timeline based on the document, known as a statement of the offense, and events at the time. The document was drafted by prosecutors working on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of ties between President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russia.

The period covered includes the presidential transition that followed Trump’s election victory on Nov. 8, 2016, and the first few months of his presidency:

* Dec. 21, 2016: Egypt submits a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement building.

* Dec. 22: A “very senior member” of the Trump transition team directs Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each country stands on the resolution and to influence them to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.

* On the same day, Flynn contacts Russia’s ambassador to the United States about the pending vote. Flynn informs the ambassador about the incoming administration’s opposition to the resolution and asks that Russia vote against or delay it. (The statement of offense does not name the ambassador; Russia’s envoy at the time was Sergei Kislyak.)

* Dec. 23: Flynn again speaks with the ambassador, who informs Flynn that if it came to a ballot, Russia would not vote against the resolution. (Russia is among the 14 countries on the 15-member council that approves the resolution that day. The United States abstains, making passage possible, despite heavy pressure from Israel and President-elect Trump.)

* Dec. 28: President Barack Obama signs an executive order, to take effect the next day, imposing sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s actions intended to interfere in the presidential election.

* The Russian ambassador to the United States contacts Flynn.

* Asked by reporters if the United States should sanction Russia, Trump suggests the two countries lay to rest the controversy over Moscow’s interference in the election, saying, “I think we ought to get on with our lives.” Trump, who is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, has cast doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies’ findings that Russian hackers took information from Democratic Party computers and posted it online to help Trump defeat Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

* Dec. 29: Flynn calls a senior transition team official, who is with other senior transition team members at Mar-a-Lago to discuss what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian ambassador about the sanctions.

The discussion between Flynn and the official touches on the potential impact of the sanctions on the incoming Trump administration’s foreign policy goals. The officials and Flynn also talk about transition team members’ desire that Russia not escalate the situation.

* Immediately after the conversation, Flynn calls the ambassador and asks that Russia not escalate and that it only respond to the sanctions reciprocally.

* Shortly afterwards, Flynn discusses the substance of the call with the ambassador with the transition official, including their discussion of the U.S. sanctions.

* Dec. 30: Russian President Vladimir Putin releases a statement indicating Russia will not retaliate in response to the sanctions at that time.

* Dec. 31: The ambassador calls Flynn and informs him that Russia has chosen not to retaliate in response to Flynn’s request.

* After the call, Flynn speaks with senior transition team members about his conversations with the ambassador regarding the sanctions and Russia’s decision not to escalate.

* Jan. 13, 2017: In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump suggests he might do away with the sanctions if Russia proves helpful in battling terrorists and reaching other goals important to Washington.

* Jan. 16: The Times of London publishes an interview with Trump in which the president-elect says he will propose offering to end sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal.

* Jan. 20: Trump takes office, and Flynn becomes national security adviser.

* Jan. 24: Flynn agrees to be interviewed by FBI agents. During the interview, he falsely states he did not ask the Russian ambassador to refrain from escalation in responding to the U.S. sanctions.

Flynn also falsely states he did not remember a follow-up conversation in which the ambassador said Russia had chosen to moderate its response to the sanctions due to Flynn’s request.

Flynn makes additional false statements about his phone calls to Russia and several other countries about the U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements. Specifically, Flynn falsely says he only asked the countries’ positions on the vote and did not ask any countries to take any particular action on the resolution. Flynn also falsely states the Russian ambassador never told him Russia’s response to his request regarding the resolution.

* Jan. 27: At a joint news conference with visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump says he is only in the early stages of considering whether to lift sanctions on Russia.

* Jan. 28: In their first conversation since Trump’s inauguration, Trump and Putin agree to try to rebuild U.S.-Russia ties and to cooperate in Syria, the Kremlin says. A Kremlin spokesman says two days later that sanctions were not discussed.

* Feb. 2: The U.S. Treasury Department adjusts sanctions on Russia’s FSB intelligence agency, making limited exceptions to the measures Obama put in place.

* Feb. 13: Flynn is fired following disclosures that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with Kislyak, Moscow’s U.S. ambassador, and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

* Feb. 16: Trump says he did not direct Flynn to talk to Russia’s ambassador about sanctions before taking office.

* March 7: Flynn files multiple documents with the Justice Department involving the Foreign Agents Registration Act pertaining to a project conducted by him and his company, the Flynn Intel Group Inc, for the benefit of Turkey. In the filings, Flynn makes false statements and omissions.

Compiled by Jonathan Oatis; Editing by Leslie Adler

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