Posts Tagged ‘Russia Today’

Russia To Target U.S. and Coalition Aircraft Over Syria

June 19, 2017

Russia steps up rhetoric after U.S. fighter shoots down Syrian government jet

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June 19, 2017 10:33 a.m. ET

MOSCOW—Russia escalated tensions with the United States Monday, promising to actively track U.S. and coalition aircraft over Syria with air defense systems and warplanes, the country’s defense ministry said.

In a statement released Monday, the Russian military said it would treat U.S. and coalition operating west of the Euphrates Rivers as “aerial targets,” but stopped short of threatening a shootdown.

“In regions where the…

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Russia warns US-led coalition over downing of Syrian jet

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Defence ministry says planes flying west of Euphrates will be treated as targets and that it has suspended safety agreement with US

A US navy F/A-18 Super Hornet
The Pentagon confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday. Photograph: US DoD handout/EPA

Russia’s defence ministry has said it will treat any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria as a potential target, after the US military shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday.

The ministry also said it was suspending a safety agreement with Washington designed to prevent collisions and dangerous incidents in Syrian airspace.

According to the Pentagon the Syrian jet in question had dropped bombs near US partner forces involved in the fight to wrest Raqqa from Islamic State (Isis) control. It was the first such US attack on a Syrian air force plane since the start of the country’s civil war six years ago.

In an apparent attempt at deescalation, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defence and security committee at the upper chamber of Russian parliament, described the defence ministry’s statement as a warning. “I’m sure that because of this neither the US nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he told the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”

Ozerov said Russia will be tracking the coalition’s jets, not shooting them down, but he added that “a threat for those jets may appear only if they take action that pose a threat to Russian aircraft”.

The deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said the US strike “has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law.

“What is this if not an act of aggression? It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy.”

The Russian response increases the risk of an inadvertent air fight breaking out between US and Russian warplanes in the skies above Syria.

The US military confirmed that a US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet had shot down a Syrian SU-22 on Sunday. The US said the Syrian jet had dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters who are aligned with US forces in the fight against Isis. Damascus said its plane had been on anti-Isis mission.

Col John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command, said there were no US forces in the immediate vicinity of the Syrian attack but that the SDF was under threat for more than two hours.

The growing risk of a direct confrontation between the US and Russia follows a decision by Donald Trump to grant his military chiefs untrammelled control of US military strategy in Syria.

Tensions have also been bubbling between Washington and Moscow over efforts to dislodge Isis from its Raqqa stronghold.

Russia, a staunch supporter of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been pressing the US to make the removal of Isis a joint land and air operation, but discussions over Syria’s long-term political future appear to have ground to a halt, leaving the US military to operate in a political vacuum.

The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters working alongside western special forces, said it would take action to defend itself from Syrian warplanes if attacks continued.

The Trump administration has promised to improve arms supplies to the SDF after it concluded that it was the force most capable of freeing Raqqa from Isis.

In a sign of how complex the Syrian peace process has become, Russian-sponsored peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, are scheduled to resume on the same day – 10 July – as talks convened by the UN in Geneva.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced the date on Monday in the knowledge that it would coincide with the UN schedule. He also said that the UN’s Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura, would take part.

A spokesman for de Mistura said “the subject is currently being discussed”.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/russia-target-us-led-coalition-warplanes-over-syria

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Russia halts US aviation cooperation over downing of Syrian jet

June 19, 2017

AFP, Reuters and The Associated Press

© Omar haj kadour, AFP | A Syrian army jet fires rockets over the village of Rahbet Khattab in Hama province on March 23, 2017.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-06-19

The Russian defence ministry said Monday that it was halting aviation cooperation with the United States after the US downed a Syrian government warplane on Sunday, a move one Russian official described as a clear “act of aggression”.

The Russian defence ministry said it was halting cooperation with Washington within the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria, effective immediately. It also accused the United States of not using the proper communication channels before shooting down the Syrian army jet.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the established communication channel for preventing incidents in Syrian airspace,” the ministry said, adding that Moscow “ends cooperation with the American side from June 19”.

Moreover, any coalition aircraft flying to the west of the Euphrates will be treated as targets, the defence ministry said.

“Any flying objects, including planes and drones of the international coalition, discovered west of the Euphrates river will be tracked as aerial targets by Russia’s air defences on and above ground.”

URGENT: Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g pic.twitter.com/w27zQsyy5y

RT

@RT_comCoalition’s airborne objects in Russian Air Force’s Syria missions areas to be tracked as targets – Moscow https://on.rt.com/8f9g  pic.twitter.com/PHqYQjI6Yo

Voir l'image sur Twitter

Russia previously suspended the memorandum of understanding on air safety in April to protest against US airstrikes launched in response to a suspected chemical attack.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, on Monday firmly condemned the United States for shooting down the Syrian plane, calling it an “act of aggression”.

“This strike has to be seen as a continuation of America’s line to disregard the norms of international law,” Ryabkov told journalists in Moscow on Monday, the TASS news agency reported. “What is this if not an act of aggression?”

Ryabkov said the Kremlin had also warned the United States not to use force against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Moscow ally.

A Syrian jet plane

The incident marked the first time an American fighter jet had taken down a Syrian warplane, which Washington accused of attacking US-backed fighters.

The tensions come as the US-led coalition and allied fighters battle to evict the Islamic State (IS) group from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

>> Read more: MSF says 10,000 Syrians flee Raqqa as battle for the city nears

The Syrian jet was shot down after regime forces engaged fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance battling IS jihadists with US support, in an area close to Raqqa. The American F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down the Syrian SU-22 around 7pm as it “dropped bombs near SDF fighters” south of the town of Tabqa, the coalition said in a statement.

It said that several hours earlier, regime forces had attacked the SDF in another town near Tabqa, wounding several and driving the SDF from the town.

The coalition said the Syrian warplane had been shot down “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces”.

Syria’s army disputed the account, saying its plane was hit while “conducting a mission against the terrorist Islamic State group”.

It warned of “the grave consequences of this flagrant aggression”.

International imbroglio

The SDF entered Raqqa for the first time earlier this month and now holds four neighbourhoods in the east and west of the city.

In a further escalation of military action in Syria, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it launched a series of missiles into Syria on Sunday in revenge for deadly attacks on its capital that were claimed by the Islamic State group. It said the missiles were “in retaliation” for a June 7 attack on the parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that killed 17 people.

Assad has focused his forces further east, to the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor, which is largely under IS group control and where government forces are besieged in part of the provincial capital.

Outside of coalition operations, US forces have only once directly targeted the regime – when Washington launched air strikes against an airbase it said was the launchpad for an alleged chemical attack that killed more than 80 civilians in April.

The Kremlin denounced those US strikes as an “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.

Syria’s war began in March 2011 with anti-government protests but has since spiralled into a complex and bloody conflict that has killed more than 320,000 people and become a proxy war for regional powers as well as ensnaring the United States and Russia.

Interfax reported that Ryabkov and the US under secretary of state, Thomas Shannon, would meet in St Petersburg on June 23 to discuss persistent tensions in bilateral ties.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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The Syrian SU-22 fighter bomber was shot down by an American F18 Super Hornet after it had dropped bombs near the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces north of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria.

The US, which has special forces troops in the area, had earlier sent a warning to the Syrian military to stop targeting the forces and called on Russia to rein in its ally, but they were ignored.

Russia, which intervened militarily to back the Syrian regime in 2015,on Monday condemned the US action, saying it flouted international law.

“It is, if you like, help to those terrorists that the US is fighting against, declaring they are carrying out an anti-terrorism policy,” Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said, adding it was a “dangerous escalation”.

 Image may contain: airplane

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said: “It is hard for me to choose any other words but these: if you [the US] can’t help you should at least not interfere. As your ‘efforts’ once again do nothing but help the militants.

“You are fighting the wrong party: it is not the Syrian army that perpetrates terror attacks in European capital cities.”

See the whole report:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/18/us-forces-shoot-syrian-jet-first-time-move-described-self-defence/

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Russian diplomat: U.S. downing of Syrian warplane is ‘support of terrorists’: TASS

June 19, 2017

Image may contain: airplane

Moscow sees the downing of a Syrian government warplane by the United States as an “act of aggression and support of terrorists”, TASS news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Monday.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov)

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The truth is, the U.S. has communicated with Russia and Syria many times not to fly in a threatening manner in certain areas. The consequences of Syria’s Russian-supported actions are clear. Russia’s answer is more fake news and propaganda. Peace and Freedom Editor

Macron, Putin Hold Talks Amid Strained U.S.-European Ties

May 29, 2017

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The talks at Versailles are the French president’s first with the Russian leader since winning election earlier this month

Alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin waves upon his arrival at the Versailles Palace on Monday.

Alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin waves upon his arrival at the Versailles Palace on Monday. PHOTO: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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VERSAILLES, France—French President Emmanuel Macron and his counterpart Vladimir Putin of Russia strained Monday to turn the page on allegations of Russian interference in France’s elections well as their differences over Syria, with the French leader describing the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime as a “red line.”

The newly elected French leader was hosting Mr. Putin at the Palace of Versailles to mark 300 years of Franco-Russian diplomacy that began under Russian Czar Peter the Great.

Heightened tensions with Moscow loomed over the meeting as Mr. Macron and other European leaders have begun to weigh a geopolitical landscape defined by increasingly fragile trans-Atlantic relations. Last week U.S. President Donald Trump didn’t reaffirm the principle of mutual defense at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to which the U.S. and 27 other nations belong. That prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say this weekend it was time to “really take our fate into our own hands.’’

“It was an extremely frank, direct conversation,” Mr. Macron said in a joint news conference with Mr. Putin after their talks.

Any fissures in the NATO alliance provide Mr. Putin with an opening to drive a lasting wedge between the U.S. and its allies on a range of foreign policy fronts. Europe has often strained to show unity on defense and foreign policy, a struggle that risks being exacerbated without full-throated security assurances from the U.S. and with the looming departure of the U.K. from the European Union.

On Monday, Mr. Macron stood firm on the European Union’s sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea as well as France’s opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom the West has accused of carrying out chemical attacks against his own people.

“There is a very clear red line on our side,” Mr. Macron said. “The use of chemical weapons by anyone—so any use of chemical weapons—will meet with retaliation and an immediate response.”

Mr. Macron also said reopening France’s embassy in Damascus was “not my priority.”

Mr. Putin said attacks on the Assad regime would only strengthen militant groups like Islamic State.

“It is impossible to combat the terrorist threat by destroying the statehood of countries that already suffer from internal problems,” Mr. Putin said.

The Macron-Putin meeting was also closely watched for signs of personal animus between the two leaders. Mr. Putin irked Mr. Macron’s presidential campaign by hosting his rival, National Front leader Marine Le Pen, during a visit to Russia.

“If Ms. Le pen asked to meet, why should we turn her down?” Mr. Putin said as Mr. Macron looked on.

The Russian leader also dismissed allegations the Macron campaign made that Kremlin-backed hackers and media outlets interfered in France’s presidential election. Mr. Macron’s party En Marche said in February its website was targeted by thousands of hacking attempts and that Kremlin controlled outlets spread defamatory rumors about the candidate in an attempt to destabilize the campaign. In the final hours of official campaigning, Mr. Macron’s party said it was hacked when thousands of emails and documents purportedly from the campaign were leaked on the internet.

“They say Russian hackers may have interfered,” Mr. Putin said, referring to the Macron campaign. “Dear colleagues, how can you comment on such things?”

The remarks belied initial attempts by both leaders to play down the alleged interference. Mr. Macron he did not discuss the issue with Mr. Putin behind closed doors because he wanted to be “pragmatic.”

That resolve wavered when a Russian journalist asked Mr. Macron why his campaign banned Russia Today and Sputnik from its headquarters.

“Russia Today and Sputnik did not behave like press organizations or journalists, they behaved like organization of influence, of propaganda, and false propaganda,” he said.

Write to Stacy Meichtry at stacy.meichtry@wsj.com and William Horobin at William.Horobin@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/macron-putin-hold-talks-amid-strained-u-s-european-ties-1496062884?mod=e2tw&tesla=y

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Macron bans Russian-state media from campaign trail

April 29, 2017

AFP

© THOMAS SAMSON / POOL / AFP | French presidential election candidate for the En Marche ! movement Emmanuel Macron talks to the press on April 18, 2017.

French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron’s campaign Thursday denied press access and passes to two Russian state-backed media, RT (formerly Russia Today) and Sputnik, accusing them of spreading “propaganda” and “misleading information”.

The decision was described as “scandalous” by Kremlin foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, after Macron confirmed to AFP that the access applications had been refused.

“It (RT) is not just a news outlet like the others,” a source in the Macron campaign told the Daily Beast on Monday, “it is a propaganda organ. Therefore we have decided not to give it accreditation.”

RT promptly hit back, telling the Daily Beast, “RT has not received an official reason for its exclusion from the Macron presidential campaign. We hope that his team will see fit to afford the courtesy of accreditation to RT shortly, and not attempt to curtail journalism, and manipulate the media, by selecting who can and can’t report on his campaign.”

Macron’s campaign accuses RT of spreading ‘fake news,’ dodges requests for clarification https://on.rt.com/8a96 

The Kremlin’s Zakharova said that the necessary requests had been made by Russia media and as “other foreign media have not faced any obstacles, we consider these prohibitory measures to be targeted and openly discriminatory”.

Sputnik and RT (Russia Today) were created by the Kremlin for foreigners, and are available in several languages including French. According to Le Monde, the French-language versions of both RT and Sputnik are “very present on [French] social media,” and both sites doubled their traffic in 2016.

A “smear campaign”

The Macron campaign did not offer specific examples of what it considered “propaganda” from RT or Sputnik. However, in February, Macron’s spokesman Benjamin Griveaux accused the Kremlin of mounting a “smear campaign” via state media against the pre-EU centrist former economy minister.

Sputnik published an extensive interview with right-wing Les Républicains lawmaker Nicolas Dhuicq on February 4, in which Dhuicq accused Macron of being an “agent of the big American banking system” and of having “a very wealthy gay lobby behind him”.

The article may have prompted Macron on February 7 to publicly deny having an extramarital homosexual affair.

Anti-Macron or just pro-Le Pen?

Russia is viewed as a keen backer of Macron’s rival Marine Le Pen in the presidential race. Le Pen even met Russian President Vladimir Putin in a surprise visit to Moscow ahead of France’s April 23 first round vote.

RUSSIA ‘ACTIVELY INVOLVED’ IN FRENCH ELECTION, WARNS US SENATE INTELLIGENCE CHIEF

Russian attempts to influence the French campaign via hacking are easier to prove: cybersecurity experts have said they are “99 percent sure” that Russian hackers are targeting the Macron campaign.

The Russian cyber-spying group Pawn Storm used “phishing” techniques to try to steal personal data from Macron and members of his ‘En Marche!’ (Forward!) campaign, the Japanese cyber-security firm Trend Micro said Tuesday.

“This group set up a specific infrastructure to target Emmanuel Macron’s movement in March and April 2017,” Loïc Guézo, Trend Micro’s strategy director for southern Europe, told FRANCE 24.

Pawn Storm – also known as Fancy Bear, Sednit, APT28, Sofacy or Strontium – is also believed to be behind the attacks last summer on the US Democratic National Committee, thought to be aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

The group is widely suspected of having links to Russia’s security services.

Moscow has denied any involvement in seeking to influence France’s election, which will be decided in a second round run-off between Macron and Le Pen on May 7.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Think tank with ties to Putin reportedly had plans to sway election in Trump’s favor

April 20, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference at the Kremlin in Moscow  (Reuters)

A Moscow-based think tank controlled by a Russian official appointed by President Vladimir Putin reportedly hatched a plan to increase Donald Trump’s chances to win the presidency.

Reuters, citing three current and four former U.S. officials, reported Wednesday that the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies provided a framework for top Russian officials on how to sway the U.S. election. Five officials told Reuters the institute is the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank.

The report said the think tank produced two documents. The first was released to the upper reaches of the Russian government, the report said.

The document reportedly said the Kremlin should launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian-backed news that stressed the point that the smart choice for president would be a candidate with a softer approach to Moscow.

The classified document called for state-backed news outlets to get the message out, the report said.

The think tank’s opinion on the approach apparently shifted by October, when Hillary Clinton appeared to be gaining distance on Trump. The second document said it would be best to increase its message on voter fraud and to attack Clinton’s reputation.

These documents were acquired by U.S. intelligence officials and were the basis of what led U.S. officials to blame Russia for meddling, the report said. The sources declined to comment on how the documents were obtained. Reuters reported that U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them. The report was not independently confirmed by Fox News.

The think tank said in a statement to The Tass Russian News Agency that the report is incorrect.

“Unfortunately, the number of slanderous remarks against Russia has been growing recently but those making such remarks wrongly perceive the world,” the center said.

Putin has denied any interference in the U.S. election, and Trump said the Kremlin’s activities did not play a role in the election outcome. There is no evidence thus far that Trump or his associates knew about Russia’s effort during the campaign. The FBI and lawmakers are investigating.

Trump recently said that U.S.-Russia relations “may be at an all-time low,” and that “right now we’re not getting along with Russia at all.”

The comment underscored long-standing difficulties that have plagued the two nations’ attempts at greater understanding since the days of their World War II alliance. The Cold War may be over, but from Eastern Europe to the Middle East, Washington and Moscow don’t see the world the same way.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/20/think-tank-with-ties-to-putin-reportedly-had-plans-to-sway-election-in-trumps-favor.html

Mike Flynn Worked for Several Russian Companies, Was Paid More Than $50,000, Documents Show

March 16, 2017

Former Trump national security adviser had business connections with Russia beyond RT that hadn’t been previously known

Mike Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an exhibition in 2015 marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today).

Mike Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an exhibition in 2015 marking the 10th anniversary of RT (Russia Today). PHOTO: MICHAEL KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / K/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

President Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, was paid tens of thousands of dollars by Russian companies shortly before he became a formal adviser to the then-candidate, according to documents obtained by a congressional oversight committee that revealed business interests that hadn’t been previously known.

Mr. Flynn was paid $11,250 each by a Russian air cargo company that had been suspended as a vendor to the United Nations following a corruption scandal, and by a Russian cybersecurity company that was then trying to expand its business with the U.S. government, according to the documents, which were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Those engagements took place in the summer and fall of 2015, a year after Mr. Flynn had been fired as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and while he continued to maintain a top-secret level security clearance.

December 2015, the Kremlin-backed news organization RT also paid Mr. Flynn $33,750 to speak about U.S. foreign policy and intelligence matters at a conference in Moscow.

In February 2016, Mr. Flynn became an official adviser to the presidential campaign of Mr. Trump, who at the time was taking a softer stance toward Moscow than his Republican rivals.

Mike Flynn resigned as Trump’s national security adviser. He came under fire for making conflicting statements on whether he discussed sanctions with a Russian official before the president’s inauguration. Photo: Reuters (Originally published Feb., 14, 2017)

Price Floyd, a spokesman for Mr. Flynn, said he reported his RT appearance to the Defense Intelligence Agency, as required. Mr. Floyd didn’t immediately respond to questions about the other fees.

The new details about Mr. Flynn’s speaking engagements are contained in emails and documents provided to congress by his speaker’s bureau, which is called Leading Authorities, and shed light on a continuing inquiry into Mr. Flynn’s and other Trump associates’ ties to Moscow.

On Monday, FBI Director James Comey and other current and former U.S. officials are scheduled to testify about possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election before a congressional committee that is also probing Trump associates’ ties to Russia.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any investigation related to the 2016 presidential campaign after he failed to disclose the extent of his own contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak.

Mr. Flynn resigned under pressure in February after he failed to tell White House officials about phone calls he had with Mr. Kislyak, in which the two discussed the potential lifting of U.S. sanctions on Russia, according to U.S. officials familiar with the contents of the conversations.

While the documents from Mr. Flynn’s speaker’s bureau provide the most detail to date on his business dealings with Russia, they don’t show what other work he may have been doing outside his role as a paid speaker. Mr. Flynn commanded high fees for speaking on the state of global security and talking about his role as one of the most senior intelligence officials in the Obama administration.

Mr. Flynn was removed from his post as DIA chief after complaints of poor management and organization, not because of a policy dispute, according to people who worked with him at the time.

Last week, Mr. Flynn filed papers with the Justice Department disclosing that his firm was paid $530,000 to work in the U.S. on behalf of the interests of the Turkish government. Mr. Flynn had performed those services while he was advising Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate.

Little additional information has become public about other clients the former military intelligence chief’s private consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, may have had before the retired general’s appointment as national security adviser.

In a letter sent Thursday by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) to Mr. Trump, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Mr. Comey, Mr. Cummings wrote that by taking the RT speaking fee, Mr. Flynn had “accepted funds from an instrument of the Russian government.”

Mr. Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, pointed to a Central Intelligence Agency analysis written in 2012, while Mr. Flynn was running the DIA, that said RT was “created and financed by the Russian government,” which spent hundreds of millions of dollars a year to help the network create and disseminate programming that is broadcast in English around the world, including in the U.S.

Mr. Cummings said that by taking the fee, Mr. Flynn had violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits people in public office from accepting money from foreign governments. Some analysts have said this prohibition may apply to retired officers as well, because they could be recalled to service.

“I cannot recall anytime in our nation’s history when the president selected as his national security adviser someone who violated the Constitution by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked our democracy,” Mr. Cummings wrote.

Though Mr. Flynn’s RT appearance had been reported, the documents provided new details about how he came to speak at the RT conference in December 2015, an event marking the network’s 10th anniversary.

While Mr. Flynn’s speakers’ bureau acted as a middleman, email communications indicate that RT sought to orchestrate the event and the content of his remarks.

“Using your expertise as an intelligence professional, we’d like you to talk about the decision-making process in the White House—and the role of the intelligence community in it,” an official from RT TV-Russia wrote in an email on Nov. 20, 2015, the month before Mr. Flynn’s appearance in Moscow.

In an earlier email in October, an RT official described the event as a networking opportunity for Mr. Flynn and an occasion to meet “political influencers from Russia and around the world.” At a gala dinner during the event, Mr. Flynn sat at the head table next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It was something of a surprise to see General Flynn there,” said Ray McGovern, a former CIA officer and political activist who also attended.

Before the dinner, Mr. Flynn gave an interview on stage with an RT correspondent and chastised the Obama administration for objecting to Russia’s intervention in Syria.

“The United States can’t sit there and say, ‘Russia, you’re bad,’” Mr. Flynn said, according to a video of the interview, noting that both countries had shared global interests and were “in a marriage, whether we like it or not.” The countries should “stop acting like two bullies in a playground” and “quit acting immature with each other,” Mr. Flynn said.

Mr. Flynn attended with his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who worked as the chief of staff to his consulting firm. Records show that RT paid for travel and lodging expenses for both Flynns, including business-class airfare, accommodations at Moscow’s Hotel Metropol, and meals and incidental expenses while in Russia.

Mr. Putin entered the dinner late with two body guards, Mr. McGovern said. He waved and took his seat at the table, where he remained for about 20 minutes. After a fifteen-minute speech, Mr. Putin sat down, listened to a performance by the Russian Army chorus and then left, Mr. McGovern said.

It isn’t clear what Mr. Flynn said during speeches to the other two companies, computer security firm Kaspersky and Russian airliner Volga-Dnepr.

Mr. Flynn appears to have to spoken to Kaspersky at a conference the company sponsored in Washington, D.C., in October 2015. It wasn’t clear where Mr. Flynn spoke to Volga-Dnepr, but records from his speaker’s bureau show the engagement took place on August 19, 2015.

Kaspersky sponsors a number of events world-wide and in recent years has been trying to expand its business in the U.S., looking to supply government clients with antivirus products for industrial control systems.

Kaspersky said in a statement that its U.S. subsidiary paid Mr. Flynn a speaker fee for remarks at the 2015 Government Cyber Security Forum in Washington, D.C.

“As a private company, Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, but the company is proud to collaborate with the authorities of many countries, as well as international law enforcement agencies in the fight against cybercrime,” the company said.

Volga-Dnepr didn’t respond to a request for comment. The Russian cargo air firm is known for operating one of the largest military transport aircraft in the world, the An-124, which the U.S. has contracted in the past to lift military equipment, including Russian helicopters, into Afghanistan. The plane has a larger capacity than the U.S. military’s biggest cargo plane.

Write to Shane Harris at shane.harris@wsj.com, Paul Sonne at paul.sonne@wsj.com and Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/mike-flynn-worked-for-other-russian-companies-besides-rt-documents-1489683618?mod=e2tw

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One-Time Trump National Security Pick Registers As Foreign Agent for Ukrainian Oligarch

One-Time Trump National Security Pick Registers As Foreign Agent for Ukrainian Oligarch

Monica Crowley was once U.S. President Donald Trump’s top pick for a top White House national security role. After being caught up in a plagiarism scandal, she backed out of the job. But now she has a new one: lobbying for Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk.

Her move comes right on the heels of a scandal involving former national security advisor Michael Flynn’s belated registration as a foreign agent for work he did for Turkey while advising the Trump campaign. While Crowley never served in the administration, her move to lobby for a Ukrainian oligarch further clouds Trump’s campaign pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington.

Crowley registered as a foreign agent for Victor Pinchuk according to documents submitted to the Department of Justice on March 10. According to the files, the conservative news commentator will “be providing outreach services on behalf of Mr. Pinchuk” including “inviting government officials and other policy makers to attend conferences and meetings…to engage in learning and dialogue regarding issues of concern to Mr. Pinchuk.”

Pinchuk is a controversial political figure in Ukraine. The son-in-law of former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, Pinchuk made over $1 billion off his steel company and other ventures in the rough-and-tumble business landscape of post-Soviet Ukraine. He backed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and became a vocal opponent of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. He also gained notoriety for forging close ties with the Clinton family, pouring between $10 and $25 million into the Clinton Foundation as of 2016, according to the New York Times.

Pinchuk came under fire in 2015 when a Newsweek investigation revealed his businesses had trade links with Iran in 2011 and 2012 when Iran was under sanction — a claim Pinchuk denied. He also found himself in legal trouble when the Commerce Department investigated his steel company, Interpipe, Ltd., for illegally dumping steel tubes used in natural gas production into the United States.

Pinchuk’s foundation also donated $150,000 to Trump’s foundation after the real-estate mogul delivered a speech on Ukraine in 2015 to a meeting organized by the foundation.

Pinchuk emerged as a potential conduit to Trump for the Ukrainian government, as Foreign Policy reported in February. He caught flak at home for penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed in December arguing that Ukraine should make “painful compromises” with Russia, though he hasn’t backed off his denunciation of Russia’s antics in stoking the crisis. His new business relationship with Crowley indicates he could be seeking new inroads with the White House after years of forging ties with the Clintons.

Crowley plagiarized over 50 sections of her 2012 book, What The (Bleep) Just Happened,  from sources including Wikipedia, Investopedia, news outlets, and think tank reports. She withdrew herself from the running to be senior director of communications for Trump’s national security council when revelations of her plagiarism first broke in January. Her publisher, HarperCollins, subsequently removed the book from shelves.

Doug Schoen, another news commentator and political analyst, is listed in the documents as the primary registrant for Crowley’s work with Pinchuk. Schoen arranged multiple meetings for Pinchuk with top State Department officials while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State, and as recently as 2014 earned $40,000 a month for advising Pinchuk, according to the New York Times.

Flynn, who served less than one month in office, retroactively registered as a foreign agent in March for lobbying on behalf of a company with ties to the Turkish government while advising Trump’s presidential campaign. He resigned in February for misleading White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, on meetings he held with the Russian ambassador.

Photo credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

One-Time Trump National Security Pick Registers As Foreign Agent for Ukrainian Oligarch

In Spy-Agency Revamp, Michael Flynn Shows His Influence

January 7, 2017

Donald Trump’s pick for national-security adviser has been skeptical of the intelligence community

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Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
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Jan. 6, 2017 8:35 p.m. ET

In 2010, then-Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, at the time the top U.S. military intelligence official in Afghanistan, slammed the U.S. spy apparatus he helped to oversee as bloated and out of touch. Four years later, he was fired as the head of the military’s largest intelligence agency—in his view for speaking truth to power about the inadequacies of the nation’s national security preparedness.

Today, Gen. Flynn, who retired in 2014 as a lieutenant general, is in a position to again push his views of how America should protect itself, this time as President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser.

Gen. Flynn and senior Trump advisers are eyeing potential structural changes to components of the U.S. intelligence community. The Wall Street Journal reported this past week that transition team officials have discussed paring back the authorities of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and reducing the size of its staff, and also discussed possible changes at the Central Intelligence Agency.

The effort is still the subject of internal discussions, and the Trump transition team has made no formal plans, people familiar with the discussions said. Sean Spicer, a Trump spokesman, said Thursday that discussions have been “tentative,” and denied there were plans for an overhaul.

“The president-elect’s top priorities will be to ensure the safety of the American people and the security of the nation, and he’s committed to finding the best and most effective ways to do it,” Mr. Spicer said.

But Mr. Trump’s aggressive skepticism of the intelligence community clearly echoes Gen. Flynn’s views on both the organization and the quality of national intelligence and the need for changes, according to officials familiar with the transition team and Gen. Flynn. As the president-elect’s closest adviser on national security, he briefs Mr. Trump on developments and sits in on classified presentations from U.S. intelligence officials.

The Trump transition team said Gen. Flynn wasn’t available to comment.

In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump has questioned intelligence conclusions that Russia-linked hackers intervened to help him win the election. Current and former intelligence officials have said that they see Gen. Flynn’s influence in those tweets and in Mr. Trump’s frequent allusions to the intelligence community’s botched 2002 analysis of Iraq’s suspected weapons program.

“I absolutely see Mike Flynn’s fingerprints on that,” said a former U.S. official with ties to the Trump transition who is familiar with Gen. Flynn.

Proposed changes to the Office of Director of National Intelligence have been offered for years by critics who said the office had grown too large and beyond its original scope. In that respect, some officials said Gen. Flynn’s proposals could be the latest iteration of longstanding proposals. Others also detect a whiff of revenge.

Gen. Flynn was removed as head of the agency by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and Michael Vickers, the civilian head of Pentagon intelligence at the time, because of his poor management of the agency, said U.S. officials who were familiar with his removal.

Former senior intelligence officials voiced concern that Gen. Flynn may harbor grievances, coloring the advice he gives Mr. Trump. “I get concerned about that, and I think it falls into this larger sense of an atmosphere that is all about gloating and payback,” said a second former senior U.S. intelligence official who has worked with Gen. Flynn. at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Gen. Flynn believes he was removed because he had challenged the Obama White House over the need to go after al Qaeda and other militant groups. “I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department,” he wrote last summer.

Mr. Trump has no prior experience as a consumer of U.S. intelligence information. But when he criticizes the agencies, he draws allusions to previous flawed assessments and accuses them of leaking information about the Russia hacks for political purposes. The first former official noted that the retired general has himself accused the Obama administration of playing down for political purposes his own analysis on the resiliency of al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Gen. Flynn’s own thinking about the intelligence community has informed Mr. Trump’s in significant ways. When he was still in uniform, Gen. Flynn had argued passionately that intelligence analysts should be closer to the fight and posted in the field.

While at the Defense Intelligence Agency, he railed against the intelligence bureaucracy, saying the system rewarded contractors and perpetuated redundancies. As director, Gen. Flynn pushed to curtail the amount of money that went to pay contractors within the military’s intelligence community, according to a former U.S. official.

“It is [a] gross waste in terms of how we spend money in the intel world,” said the former official.

Officials close to the transition said Americans should expect Mr. Trump to push for overhauls of various areas of government, including the American intelligence apparatus.

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A U.S. intelligence report released Friday laid out efforts by Russian officials to influence the 2016 election. The WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains what the disclosures mean for President-elect Donald Trump and the integrity of the electoral system. Photo: AP
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Some former officials and experts question the need for such steps. Dennis Blair, a retired four-star admiral who was director of national intelligence in 2009 and 2010, said the idea of bloat within the intelligence community is a “canard.”

“Changing it for the better is not just a matter of changing organizational boxes and cutting staff, but establishing authority and accountability processes and putting people in charge,” he said.

Gen. Flynn also has drawn questions on other issues, including his relationship with the Russian television network RT, formerly known as Russia Today. A declassified U.S. intelligence report Friday found that the Kremlin-financed station was part of a Russian effort to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last year to the benefit of Mr. Trump.

Gen. Flynn visited Moscow in December 2015, during Mr. Trump’s candidacy, where he participated in a 10-year anniversary gala for RT. During the celebrations, Gen. Flynn gave an interview with one of the network’s top presenters in front of an audience and was photographed sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at the gala dinner.

In an interview last year with the Washington Post, Gen. Flynn defended his trip, saying the Russian state network paid him through a speaking-engagement agent to attend the event, which he described as a “great learning opportunity.”

More recently, some officials have expressed concern over Gen. Flynn’s use of social media to peddle conspiracy theories, false news items and critical remarks about Muslims. One tweet from his account linked to a website promoting a baseless claim that Mrs. Clinton had been linked to sexual crimes against children.

That raises questions about Gen. Flynn’s judgment, said Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), the former Democratic vice-presidential candidate, during a hearing Thursday on intelligence and Russian hacking. Mr. Kaine didn’t refer to Gen. Flynn by name, but his title in the incoming administration.

“These are stories that most fourth-graders would find incredible,” he said. “That a national security adviser would find them believable enough to share them causes me great concern.”

Gen. Flynn was a career Army intelligence officer who rose to prominence as a senior official at the secretive Joint Special Operations Command between 2004 and 2007, deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq and later with assignments at U.S. Central Command and at the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.

In 2010, when Gen. Flynn was still in uniform, he penned a position paper titled “Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan”

In it, he argued for making intelligence analysts more agile, pushing them out of headquarters buildings and into the field.

“[B]ecause the United States has focused the overwhelming majority of collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, our intelligence apparatus still finds itself unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which we operate and the people we are trying to protect and persuade,” Gen. Flynn wrote.

In his days as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Gen. Flynn was agitated by what he saw as unnecessary duplication of effort among spy agencies.

For example, one former official said, if China were to conduct a ballistic missile test, that would trigger activity by U.S. intelligence centers at as many as six different intelligence directorates in various military and intelligence agencies—all to focus on the same thing.

“If a person has any insight into how much money the intel community spends and how redundant it is, you would understand that we are not good stewards of taxpayers’ resources,” said the former official, echoing Gen. Flynn’s critique.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Shane Harris at share.harris@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-spy-agency-revamp-michael-flynn-shows-his-influence-1483752927

Trump Aide Michael Flynn Partnered With Firm Run by Man With Alleged KGB Ties

December 23, 2016
Bloomberg News
December 23, 2016, 5:00 AM EST
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Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Photographer: John Angelillo/Pool via Bloomberg

Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, partnered this year with a controversial technology company co-run by a man once convicted of trying to sell stolen biotech material to the Russian KGB espionage agency.

Subu Kota, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to selling the material to an FBI agent posing as a Russian spy, is one of two board directors at the company, Boston-based Brainwave Science. During years of federal court proceedings, prosecutors presented evidence they said showed that between 1985 and 1990 Kota met repeatedly with a KGB agent and was part of a spy ring that made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling U.S. missile defense technology to Russian spies. Kota denied being part of a spy ring, reached a plea agreement in the biotech case and admitted to selling a sketch of a military helicopter to his co-defendant, who was later convicted of being a KGB operative.

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Subu Kota

Flynn served more than three decades in the military and rose to become director of the Defense Intelligence Agency before he was fired by President Barack Obama in 2014 over policy disagreements. He formed a private consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, which has sought business with an array of cyber security firms and defense contractors. He began collaborating with Brainwave Science last spring.

Flynn, who has been widely criticized for close associations with Russia, has declined repeated requests during the past month to be interviewed about his company’s business ties. A spokesman for the Trump transition team, Jason Miller, said in an email that Flynn has never met or spoken with Kota and that he has ended his association with Brainwave Science.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Kota described his criminal charges and dealings with the KGB as misunderstandings. He acknowledged selling biotech material to a federal agent posing as a Russian spy, but said the incident was a patent dispute, not espionage.

‘Brain Fingerprinting’

Brainwave is seeking to develop a market for its innovative -– but broadly disputed — technology called “brain fingerprinting” which tries to assess an interrogation subject’s honesty through a brain scan. Flynn was brought onto the company’s board of advisers to help sell the product to defense and law enforcement agencies, Brainwave President Krishna Ika said in an interview.

Ika said the company has not sold anything to U.S. federal agencies yet and is looking for investors. He runs the day-to-day operations while Kota brings business and technological expertise and helps make strategic decisions.

Although undercover federal agents testified that Kota bragged of his involvement in a KGB spy ring, Kota says he has never been a spy. He acknowledges meeting with Vladimir Galkin, a KGB agent, on at least four occasions and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for information about technology related to U.S. missile defense systems. But Kota said he thought Galkin was a businessman and that the information he provided was from public sources. Galkin was arrested at Kennedy Airport in 1996. Prosecutors were unable to build a case in the military spy ring they said he ran involving Kota and others after the U.S. State Department allowed him to leave the country.

Since pleading guilty to the biotech and tax evasion charges, Kota said he has steered clear of anything remotely illegal.

“Not even a parking ticket,” he said.

Kota also runs a consulting company called The Boston Group. Federal court records show that after pleading guilty in the biotech case, he testified against his co-defendant and received a reduced sentence of four years’ probation and a $50,000 fine.

Flynn has met with Brainwave officials at least 10 times, according to Ika, and signed a collaboration agreement to help drum up new business with U.S. agencies. Flynn also agreed to train any national security or law enforcement agency that purchased Brainwave products at Flynn Intel Group headquarters, Ika said. Flynn’s company, based in the Washington suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, promised to provide “world-class training services led by qualified security professionals with experience in intelligence and investigation,” Brainwave’s website says.

Headpiece With SensorsFlynn tested the product himself, Ika said. He put on the helmet-like headpiece fitted with sensors, which is said to read a subject’s brainwaves in an attempt to detect information.

“He found it very convincing,” Ika said.

Flynn’s activities with the company continued after he began receiving classified intelligence briefings in mid-August as part of Trump’s campaign. In late September, Ika said, he and Flynn pitched Brainwave to officials from the Bangladeshi defense forces during a meeting at Flynn’s offices.

After Trump won the election in November and named Flynn his national security adviser, the collaboration stalled, Ika said. Lawyers are now negotiating how to continue Brainwave’s collaboration with other partners from Flynn Intel Group.

Russia Today

Flynn has been criticized for making a paid speech at Russia Today, a state-run news agency, and sitting with President Vladimir Putin at a dinner in Moscow in 2015 to celebrate RT’s anniversary. Flynn and his son also helped spread internet conspiracies on social media, and last February the elder Flynn tweeted, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, center left, shown at a dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, last December in Moscow. The event marked the 10th anniversary of RT, a 24-hour English-language TV news channel in Russia.ENLARGE
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, center left, shown at a dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin, center right, last December in Moscow. The event marked the 10th anniversary of RT, a 24-hour English-language TV news channel in Russia. PHOTO: AP

For defense employees and private-sector military contractors such as Flynn who want to check on potential business partners, the Department of Defense publishes a periodic report entitled “Espionage and Other Compromises of National Security.” The 2009 edition, available online, includes a description of Kota’s conviction.

Brainwave’s product line is built on a technique developed by inventor Lawrence Farwell in the 1990s. The process received so much attention as a potential breakthrough for law enforcement that Congress ordered the General Accounting Office to study it. In a report released in 2001, the GAO found that its claims of effectiveness could not be validated and were not worth trying.

Ika said that after the 9/11 terror attacks, which inspired him to use his background to help fight terrorism, he heard about the technique and eventually collaborated with Farwell. Ika said he was convinced that skepticism about brain fingerprinting had been fomented by the “polygraph lobby” which did not want to lose business to a more effective technology. Brainwave now markets its product as an enhancement to polygraphs.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-23/trump-aide-partnered-with-firm-run-by-man-with-alleged-kgb-ties

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Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn Clashed With Intelligence Community, Pentagon

Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser has become known as a maverick

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who clashed with the Obama administration’s Pentagon and intelligence establishment over the U.S. fight against global extremism, has been selected as President-elect Donald Trump’s White House national security adviser, putting him in the upper ring of the nation’s security policies.

Name: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (retired)

Age: 57

Education: University of Rhode Island, Golden Gate University (Calif.), Ft. Leavenworth (Kan.), United States Naval War College.

Background: Gen. Flynn served in many military intelligence posts throughout his 33-year career, including as director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and intelligence adviser to Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outlook: He became known as a maverick within the ranks of the normally deferential and apolitical corps of “general officers,” the military’s top-ranking officials. In 2010, Gen. Flynn published a paper lambasting the military intelligence community for deficiencies in its approach to intelligence collection, taking the unusual step of releasing the study through the Center for a New American Security, a center-left think tank in Washington.

Still, he rose through the ranks. His military career culminated in his 2012 appointment to run the Defense Intelligence Agency. During his two-year tenure there, Gen. Flynn tried to overhaul the way the U.S. military treats intelligence but also clashed with superiors and counterparts, officials and colleagues said.

Ultimately, James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, and Michael Vickers, then-undersecretary of defense for intelligence, removed him from the post in 2014, forcing his retirement. In a July 9, 2016, article in the New York Post, Gen. Flynn wrote that he had been fired for the stand he took “on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements,” describing his anger at the decision.

Gen. Flynn argued that the Obama administration rested on its laurels after killing Osama bin Laden in 2011 and underestimated the depth of the threat from al Qaeda and its remnants.

Others suggested different reasons for Gen. Flynn’s dismissal. Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and onetime chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, described Gen. Flynn in a July 19, 2016, email as someone who was “abusive with staff, didn’t listen, worked against policy, bad management, etc.” That email and others was stolen by hackers and released.

Gen. Flynn in recent months promoted a view, backed by Mr. Trump on the campaign trail, that the Pentagon shouldn’t talk about its campaign to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from Islamic State and instead conceal its operations. Defense Secretary Ash Carter later disputed the matter, saying Islamic State followers needed to see that the attack was occurring to undercut the group’s claims to the establishment of a caliphate. Former military officials also questioned whether a large-scale concealed attack on Mosul, a city of about a million people, would be possible given the size and scope of the campaign.

Write to Paul Sonne at paul.sonne@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/lt-gen-michael-flynn-has-clashed-with-intelligence-community-pentagon-1479506677