As the U.S. media and Washington D.C. legislators continue to lose their collective minds over the Michael Flynn charges, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov took to the podium earlier today to dismiss the notion that Flynn's comments to former ambassador Sergey Ivanovich had any impact on Putin's ultimate decision to retaliate against U.S. sanctions as "completely absurd." Per the RT:
“Flynn was in no position to request anything of Sergey Ivanovich [Kislyak, Russia’s former US ambassador] let alone to expect any requests to be relayed to Vladimir Putin – the whole thing is completely absurd,” said the Russian President’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov during a media briefing in Moscow.
In the end Russia did postpone its response, but Peskov says that “the decision was taken by Putin alone, and cannot be attributed to any requests or recommendations.”
“What information Putin receives from his ambassadors is of no concern to anyone else,” said Peskov. “The Russian president makes all decisions independently on the basis, as he has said many times, of Russia’s national interest.”
For those who may have just returned from a remote island and missed the "shocking" revelations of the past three days, as we've detailed numerous times, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn plead guilty last Friday to lying under oath by denying to the FBI that he urged the Russian ambassador to delay a decision on retaliating against U.S. sanctions and attempted to influence a U.N. vote. Of course, the conversations in question happened after the election, during the transition period, and wouldn't have been an issue but for Flynn's seemingly inexplicable decision to lie about them. Here's more from NBC:
A two-page charging document filed last week listed two false statements Flynn made about his interactions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late December 2016. It said Flynn falsely claimed that he had not asked Kislyak "to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the U.S. had imposed against Russia," and that he didn't recall Kislyak telling him Russia had decided to moderate its response as a result of his request.
Prior to the Dec. 29 call with Kislyak, Flynn called a senior official with the presidential transition team who was with other members of the team at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to discuss what to say to the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions, according to the statement of offense.
Court documents also said Flynn falsely claimed that he didn't ask Kislyak on Dec. 22 to "delay a vote on or defeat" a U.N. Security Council resolution, and then falsely denied that Kislyak had described Russia's response to the request. Before that call, a "very senior member" of the transition team directed Flynn to contact foreign officials, including those from Russia, to learn where they stood and influence the vote, according to the statement of offense. The "very senior member" was Jared Kushner, three people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s charge, Flynn made the false statements to the FBI on Jan. 24, two days after he was sworn in as national security adviser.
Of course, the real question from here is what Flynn's plea deal means for the White House. Not surprisingly, the Left has celebrated the development as an indication Flynn could potentially implicate President Trump in the "Russian collusion" investigation while Trump supporters have argued that the decision to pursue Flynn over false statements clearly indicates that they have nothing else of substance. Per the Wall Street Journal:
To Mr. Trump’s supporters, the charge against Mike Flynn for making false statements was evidence that investigators were nowhere near proving collusion with Russians to interfere in the 2016 president election, the matter at the heart of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative mandate.
But Mr. Trump’s detractors viewed the plea deal as a milestone—the first senior aide to Mr. Trump to turn on his former boss—in an investigation that continues to escalate.
Both versions make assumptions about what information Mr. Flynn has to offer, a mystery that will reveal itself over time. For now, Mr. Flynn’s deal with the special counsel and his team suggests at the very least that Mr. Mueller believes Mr. Flynn has something valuable to share and that his investigation is unlikely to end soon, said former federal prosecutors.
“A guilty plea at this stage really could mean a whole lot of different things, and folks are in a hurry to have the plea meet their predetermined narratives,” said Stephen Vladeck, an expert in national-security law and law professor at the University of Texas.
So what say you...is the "Russian collusion" investigation weaving its way into the Oval Office or are escalating suggestions of the President's downfall just another "nothing burger?"