Ex-Russian diplomat downplays Flynn contact, denies election meddling

Former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak fired back at his critics on Saturday, saying there was nothing unusual about his prior contacts with members of President Donald Trump’s campaign. He also reiterated Russia’s denial of election meddling, a claim widely-backed by the U.S. intelligence community.

"Our conversations were legitimate, calm and absolutely transparent," Kislyak said on Russian state-television about his contact with former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to an Associated Press report. "There are a few subjects important for Russia-U.S. cooperation, primarily terrorism, and it was one of the subjects we talked about."

Flynn resigned from the administration after reports surfaced claiming he and Kislyak discussed U.S.-Russian sanctions while President Barack Obama was still in office. President Trump has said he asked Flynn to resign because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts Russian officials.

"I had instructions not to discuss sanctions," Kislyak said, denying reports that he and Flynn talked about the Obama administration’s sanctions for election meddling that included seizing two Russian compounds in the U.S. "We haven’t been involved in any discussions or bargaining over sanctions, because we believe that they have been introduced unlawfully."

Before returning to Russia in July, Kislyak became one of the central figures the reporting about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.Flynn and other Trump campaign officials are now at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the matter.
Kislyak said he was simply doing his job as a diplomat by reaching out to the Trump campaign, alleging he also spoke to people on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign team.

"Any diplomat, Russian or not, works to better understand the policy of a country he’s posted to, figure out what the new administration’s course is and understand where cooperation is possible," Kislyak said.

The former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. fired back at his critics on Saturday stating there was nothing unusual about his contacts with members of President Donald Trump’s campaign. He also re upped Russia’s refusal to acknowledged its meddling in the presidential election, a claim backed by America’s intelligence community.

Source: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/05/russia-kislyak-flynn-election-meddling-241352

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