The Kislyak-Flynn phone call transcripts are a national Rorschach Test

John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, followed through on work Ric Grenell did as acting DNI, releasing transcripts from several phone calls that General Michael Flynn had with Sergei Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador. The release shows how the political divide creates entirely different narratives, for conservatives claim (correctly, in my opinion), that the transcripts vindicate Flynn and show that the FBI, the DOJ, and Robert Mueller set him up, while leftists insist that the transcripts prove that Flynn was a traitor and a Putin stooge.

All of this leads to one overarching question: Can a nation so badly divided about reality be saved?

For those who haven’t been paying attention, here’s a super-quick Flynn rundown. Obama hated Flynn because Flynn opposed Obama’s Iran deal. Trump nevertheless appointed Flynn as the National Security Advisor for Trump’s new administration.

On December 29, only 22 days before leaving office, Obama cited Russian interference with the 2016 election to impose sanctions on Russia and expel numerous Russian diplomats. This created an instant and serious problem for the incoming Trump administration. Dan Bongino also believes that Obama took these steps to set up Flynn:

  • He had authorized spying on Kislyak;
  • He knew Kislyak would call Flynn about the sanctions and expulsions;
  • He knew Flynn would be in the Dominican Republican for the calls; and
  • He knew that calls to the Dominican Republican would create a unique “phone print” that would allow his administration to view the phone calls without unmasking Flynn.

On January 24, 2017, the FBI did an ambush interview of Flynn, during which they asked him about the December 29 telephone call with Kislyak, focusing on the expulsions. Flynn knew the call had been recorded and answered to the best of his recollection. The interviewing agents concluded he was telling the truth.

Robert Mueller, although he always knew there was no collusion, referred Flynn for criminal prosecution. The charge stated that Flynn lied to the FBI when he denied pushing Kislyak (1) not to escalate on sanctions and (2) to help defeat a UN anti-Israel resolution.

Flynn pleaded guilty to this charge, both because he was acting on advice from attorneys whom the DOJ was essentially blackmailing and to protect his son. Thanks to Flynn's intrepid new counsel, and with a new DOJ reviewing its predecessor’s corrupt work, the DOJ moved to dismiss his case. Judge Sullivan is currently refusing to rubber-stamp that motion.

It’s against this background that conservatives and leftists are reviewing the declassified phone transcripts. You can see the transcripts here and here.

On the conservative side, Sean Davis wrote a comprehensive article explaining why the transcripts vindicate Flynn. Here’s the short version:

The December 29 transcript, as Bongino guessed, makes no mention of sanctions. It discusses only expulsions, and that’s what he talked to the FBI about. On the subject of expulsions, Flynn was concerned lest Russia escalate matters, forcing the Trump administration instantly to meet one escalation with another. He asked for a tempered, reciprocal response.

The two men also discussed their shared interest in ending Middle Eastern terrorism. Regarding Israel, the men spoke of it on December 23rd, not the 29th, so Flynn could not have lied about it vis-à-vis the call on the 29th (which was the subject of the FBI interview). In any event, American policy under Obama was to be neutral, meaning any discussions could not have violated the policy.

Ultimate, the December 29 transcript shows Flynn trying to prevent a dangerous tit-for-tat scenario so as to protect American interests.

But that’s not how leftists see it. In their alternate reality, the transcripts confirm that Flynn is a traitor. Its impossible for these two realities to exist in a unified country.

To leftists, the key takeaways were Flynn’s request to Kislyak that, “Do not, do not uh, allow this administration to box us in, right now, okay?” and “What we can do is, when we come in, we can then have a better conversation about where, where we’re gonna go.” Fundamentally, anything Trump and his team did that ran counter to Obama was treason. 

Just look at Politico's headline: Flynn urged Russian ambassador to take 'reciprocal' actions, transcripts show. That implies that Russia was going to be passive in the face of Obama's wisdom and power and that it was Flynn pushing treasonous action. Of course, the opposite was true, for Flynn was trying to de-escalate. 

This tweet also shows an upside-down view of things:

Margot Cleveland saw this same spin and was outraged. I’ll end this post with her tweets explaining how frustrating it is to see leftists warp reality to give a pass to a disreputable, treasonous departing president who tried to plant a national-security landmine for the incoming president:

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