Trump Sets Free Another Russia Probe Criminal, Then Gloats With Putin - 2020-05-08
In December 2016, President Obama announced punishing economic sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its email thefts and other actions taken to help elect Donald Trump. The purpose of the sanctions was to let Russia know that its election operation, which had been undertaken with Trump's encouragement, would not be rewarded.
Michael Flynn, Trump's incoming national security adviser, wanted to send a very different message to the Russians. In a secret conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Flynn reassured the Russian that the incoming administration would steer U.S.-Russia relations in a different direction. Obama was trying to punish Russia for its act, and Flynn was trying to undermine the punishment. (Weeks later, Congress would vote to lock in sanctions by a veto-proof margin, enraging Trump and prompting him to try, futilely, to undo them.)
At the time, Flynn's secret conservation with Kislyak was closely related to the FBI's ongoing investigation into illicit contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Flynn falsely told a pair of FBI agents that he and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions. His motive to lie was obvious: The sanctions threatened to deny Russia the payment it had been sniffing around Trump's campaign for. Two years later, he confessed in court to having committed perjury.