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AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Somebody was lying, or, in the most charitable reading, incredibly forgetful.

Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn originally categorically denied that he'd privately discussed sanctions against Russia with that country's ambassador, shortly after the Obama Administration applied new penalties to retaliate for Russia's election interference.

Flynn's blanket denials — which he maintained until Wednesday, according to the Washington Post — were so categorical that they led the politically cautious Vice President Mike Pence to declare on national TV:

What I can confirm, having spoken to [Flynn] about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.

The backpedal: On Thursday, as the Post finalized their report saying Flynn did in fact discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Flynn's spokesman retreated from the original categorical denial. The spokesman told the Post that Flynn "indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn't be certain that the topic never came up."

The same report signaled the first signs of the administration leaving Flynn to fend for himself: "An administration official stressed that Pence made his comments based on his conversation with Flynn."

Latest developments:

  • NBC News and the New York Times confirmed WaPo's reporting. NBC reports: "A U.S. intelligence official briefed on the matter confirmed to NBC News that National Security Advisor Mike Flynn discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Flynn took office, contrary to denials from Vice President Mike Pence, White House spokesman Sean Spicer and others.
  • NBC, citing an anonymous official, added that "he was told there was no quid pro quo and that there has been no finding inside the government that Flynn did anything illegal."
  • CNN reports — and we should take this report with a Russia-sized grain of salt — that: "The Kremlin has denied reports that Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's national security adviser, discussed sanctions on Russia in recent discussions with Russia's ambassador to Washington."

Why this matters: It's unlikely Flynn's conversations will result in official action against him. As the Post points out, the Logan Act, a law against U.S. citizens interfering in foreign diplomacy, stems from a 1799 statute that has never been prosecuted. The real story here — beyond the substance of the private conversations — is that the Trump administration has a major, perhaps unprecedented, leak problem. Flynn is a major target and expect him to continue to be. Substantial portions of the intelligence community regard him with undisguised animosity.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

Updated 8 hours ago - Sports

Uganda Olympic team member tests positive for COVID in Tokyo

The Uganda National boxing team's Catherine Nanziri (L) and others arrive for check-in at Entebbe international airport in Wakiso, Uganda on Friday, ahead of their departure to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said.

Why it matters: Japan's government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women's softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

In photos: Brazilians rally against Bolsonaro as COVID deaths top 500,000

A June 19 protest in São Paulo, Brazil, against the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has railed against precautionary health measures despite the soaring COVID-19 death rate and cases. Photo: Rodrigo Paiva/Getty Images

Demonstrators took to the streets in at least 22 of Brazil’s 26 states to protest President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the pandemic — as deaths from COVID-19 in the country surged past 500,000 Saturday, per AP.

The big picture: Brazil has the world's second-highest coronavirus death toll and third-highest number of reported cases. Only 12% of the country's population has been vaccinated against the virus, AP notes.