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But the Washington Post, citing several current and former U.S. officials, reported late Thursday that Flynn made explicit references to election-related sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in his conversations with Kislyak.
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Investigators have been looking into whether Flynn properly disclosed payments from clients with links to foreign governments, including Russian Federation and Turkey, said.
A Trump administration official told The Associated Press that Michael Flynn “can’t be certain” that sanctions did not come up in his discussions with the Russian ambassador. The official said Flynn has “no recollection” of discussing the sanctions, but left open the possibility that the issue did come up when he spoke with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition.
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Flynn Jr., who has accompanied his father to presidential transition meetings inside Trump Tower and lists the presidential transition website as part of his Twitter bio, tweeted Sunday night that, “Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story.”
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The White House shakeup, less than one month into Trump’s tenure, marked another jarring setback for a new administration already dealing with tensions among top aides and a legal fight over the president’s travel ban order. Flynn’s firing also heightened questions about the president’s friendly posture toward Russia. Democrats called for investigations into Flynn’s contacts, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Congress needed to know whether he had been acting with direction from the president or others.
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The statement came after Mike Flynn Jr. sent numerous posts on Twitter about the conspiracy theories of Pizzagate, a fake news story suggesting a Washington, D.C., pizza shop, Comet Ping Pong, plays a key role in a child sex trafficking ring run by Hillary Clinton. Police say the conspiracy theory led to violence Sunday when a North Carolina man fired a rifle in the restaurant as he sought to investigate the accusations. No one was injured, and the man was arrested.
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Ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, Pence and other officials insisted publicly that Flynn had not discussed sanctions in his talks with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. On Jan. 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates contacted White House counsel Don McGahn to raise concerns about discrepancies between the public accounting and what intelligence officials knew to be true about the contacts based on routine recordings of communications with foreign officials who are in the U.S.
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Last week, House Democrats called for an investigation of Flynn to determine whether he violated the Constitution by accepting payments from a Kremlin-controlled TV station in Russia. Flynn traveled in 2015 to Moscow, where he joined Putin and other Russian officials in a celebration of the RT network.