White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed questions on Monday about calls between Trump’s national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and a Russian ambassador.
“There’s been one call. I talked to General Flynn about this again last night,” Spicer said in response to a reporter’s question at his first daily briefing from the White House.
He said that on the call, Flynn and the ambassador discussed the crash of a plane carrying the Russian military choir, exchanged holiday greetings, talked about “a conference in Syria on ISIS” and discussed setting up a future call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I don’t believe that has been set up yet,” Spicer said. “They did follow up, I’m sorry, two days ago about how to facilitate that call, once again. So there have been a total of two calls with the ambassador and General Flynn.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday night that U.S. counterintelligence officials were investigating Flynn’s communications with Russia.
Earlier in the month, the Associated Press reported that Flynn was in frequent contact with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, including on the day that former President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking. According to a Reuters report citing three sources familiar with the matter, Flynn actually had five phone calls with the Russian ambassador on the day Obama announced the retaliatory sanctions.
Later in the briefing, Spicer corrected himself and said that what he said was the second call between Flynn and the ambassador took place three days ago.
“That was to say, once he gets into office, can we set up that call?” he said. “It hasn’t, to my knowledge, has not occurred yet.”
“Any other conversations between General Flynn and Russian members of government?” a reporter asked.
“Not that I’m aware of,” Spicer said. “And when I say that, what I’m saying is during the transition I asked General Flynn whether or not there were any other conversations beyond the ambassador and he said no.”