UN resolution against Israeli settlements at center of Flynn guilty plea

In the lead up to the anti-settlement resolution which angered Jerusalem, Trump’s team had urged the US to veto the resolution.

December 1, 2017 20:06
3 minute read.
UN security council votes on resolution 2334

UN security council votes on resolution 2334. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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UN Security Council Resolution 2334, the December 2016 anti-settlements resolution, is at the heart of the guilty plea former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn entered on Friday. Flynn is accused of making false statements about his conversations with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. One of the two statements is allegedly about the UN resolution which condemned Israel's settlements as a "flagrant violation" of international law and which Trump's team sought to have vetoed.

Flynn is accused of making false statements about his conversations with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak. One of the two statements is allegedly about the UN resolution that condemned Israel’s settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law and which US President Donald Trump’s team sought to have vetoed.

Since May 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating links between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign. Michael Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February 2017 after having misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his conversations with Kislyak.

Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, and he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors delving into the actions of Trump’s inner circle before he took office. The dramatic turn of events also raised new questions about whether Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, had a role in those Russia contacts.

The December 1 court filing states that “on or about December 22 (2016), Flynn did not ask the Russian Ambassador to delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution, and that the Russian ambassador subsequently never described to Flynn Russia’s response to the request.”

The filing says Flynn misled the FBI about this, which would mean he allegedly did ask the Russian ambassador to delay the vote or defeat the resolution. He is accused of a false statement about that conversation and any subsequent Russian responses to it.

In the lead up to the anti-settlement resolution which angered Jerusalem, Trump’s team had urged the US to veto the resolution. On December 22nd Trump tweeted “the resolution being considered in the UN Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed.” Egypt postponed the vote on December 22nd. However it passed on December 23rd with 14 in favor and the US abstaining. According to an article at Foreign Policy in February 2017 Michael Flynn played a key role attempting to scupper the UN vote. “Flynn…and other members of the president’s transition team launched a vigorous diplomatic bid to heed off a UN Security Council vote condemning Israel’s settlements.” They reached out to the UK, Egypt, Russia, Uruguay and Malaysia according to the report.

According to reports, a “very senior member” of Trump’s team was responsible for asking Flynn to reach out to the Russians and other Security Council members regarding the settlements vote. A CNN report noted that, according to “sources familiar with the matter,” Kushner may be that senior member of the team.

On November 22, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller’s team had mentioned Kushner in relation to his role in attempting to block the UN resolution. The Flynn plea now appears to explain Mueller’s focus on Kushner and the resolution.

We now know that attempts to influence Russia as part of that campaign to derail the vote were apparently at the heart of some of the FBI conversations with Flynn days after Trump’s inauguration.

We also know that Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN, said on Friday, December 23, before the vote that he was “puzzled by the process around the resolution and by the haste with which it had been ‘pushed’ to the vote.” Churkin had been in favor of postponing the vote, which dovetails with the revelations in the guilty plea about Flynn’s alleged misleading statements. Churkin died of a heart attack on February 20, 2017, six days after Flynn resigned.

US Senator Dianne Feinstein condemned Flynn in a statement on Friday.

“Flynn’s guilty plea is about more than just lying to the FBI.

What he lied about and when he did it are of even greater significance. This shows a Trump associate negotiating with the Russians against US policy and interests before Donald Trump took office.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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