Timeline: The Obama admin, a UN resolution, and Flynn

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

A new article at The Jerusalem Post includes the following introduction “Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer said he has evidence that the Obama administration not only abstained from the vote, but pushed and supported the resolution forward. US Ambassador to Israel at the time Dan Shapiro denied the claims and maintained on Wednesday that Resolution 2334 was not a US initiative, which it technically was not – Venezuela, Senegal, New Zealand and Malaysia were the sponsors.”

Furthermore “An Israeli source confirmed most of the details of an account in Israel Hayom this week, that Obama pushed a second UN Security Council resolution that would be damaging to Israel, and Netanyahu ended up convincing Russian President Vladimir Putin to threaten a veto.”

These leads to some interesting questions about the timeline of these events based on what is already known about the 2016 election and its aftermath. What follows are links to relevant stories and timeline details.

February 2016

Times of Israel: Israel rejects regional peace proposal. The proposal was the result of months of negotiations led by then-US secretary of state John Kerry and culminated in a secret meeting on February 21, 2016, between Netanyahu, Kerry, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah, according the report.

Flynn joins Trump’s campaign as an advisor. He had been pushed out of the DIA in 2014 by the Obama administration.

June 2016

June 8

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon, TheJerusalem Post “in an interview on the sidelines of the AJC Global Forum on Tuesday, said that despite media reports about a presidential policy speech on the Mideast or a US-backed or initiated Security Council resolution, ‘we are not seeing any signs of this in New York.’…Although Danon said that Israel’s position was that such moves would not promote negotiations, Jerusalem had to take into account that the Palestinians and other states will push an effort to ‘promote something by the end of the year,’ because both Obama’s and UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon’s tenures will be ending…Danon also said he felt that if the Palestinians went ahead with presently shelved plans to bring an anti-settlement resolution to the Security Council, the US would likely veto it.”…“I’m not sure such a resolution would pass the Security Council, I do count on a US veto on this matter,” he said.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US Secretary of State in Italy on June 27, 2016; Kerry says: “Israel is, as everybody knows and we reiterate again and again, a critical ally and friend of the United States. And Israel continues to be facing significant challenges – we talked about those – in the ways in which hopefully, with good effort by all leaders, we could try to change the direction and find a positive way to affect the lives of everybody – Israelis, Palestinians, people in the neighboring countries – and move towards a more stable and peaceful future.”

Summer 2016

Washington Post: The Palestinians and Egypt — which currently holds the rotating Arab seat on the Security Council — had been talking up a new resolution on settlements since the summer. At the same time, New Zealand, which had withheld a previous measure at the United States’ request, had written a new draft.

September 2016

The Washington Post: The first public hint of the move came in the heat of the U.S. presidential campaign in September, just after nominees Trump and Hillary Clinton held meetings with Netanyahu in New York. In an Israeli television interview, Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said Obama was “asking himself” about the best way to promote a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “This could be a statement we make or a resolution or an initiative at the U.N. . . . which contributes to an effort to be continued by the next administration,” he said.

October 2016

The Jerusalem Post: Months before Resolution 2334 passed, journalist David Ze’ev Jablinowitz, who was a correspondent for Israel Radio in 2016, spoke to Obama in October of that year and confirmed that part of the story. The then-president told Jablinowitz he “had a resolution in the works that would set the parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian final-status agreement that would include a Palestinian state and would include a time frame by which such talks should be completed,” the journalist recounted.

November 2016

Washington Post: Trump’s Nov. 8 victory increased Israeli concern of a preemptive move by Obama, along with determination by other U.N. members to table a resolution before the new U.S. administration took office.

November 10:

Axios; President Obama meets with President-elect Trump. Obama reportedly warns Trump against hiring Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor. Jared Kushner had a tête-à-tête with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

November 11

Axios: Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross reports that Flynn’s firm had been hired by a Dutch company with ties to Turkey, pointing to Flynn’s op-ed at The Hill as a potential example of such work. That story prompts the first FBI investigation into Flynn.

November 18 

President-elect Trump names Flynn his national security adviser.

November 24

Israel HaYom:On Nov. 24, 2016, Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin and explained that the resolution Obama was working to pass would disrupt regional stability and harm Israel. Netanyahu asked Putin to state that he intended to use his UNSC veto to scupper the resolution. But Putin refused…Obama and his staff began working on another UNSC resolution, which would have forced Israel to agree to a Palestinian state based on the 1948 borders. Israel’s UN ambassador at the time, Danny Danon, sounded the alarm…Putin was convinced and told Netanyahu that if the resolution came to a vote, Russia would veto it….According to what Netanyahu said in the closed meeting, Obama was informed of Russia’s intention to veto the American move. Obama realized that if Russia vetoed a US resolution in order to protect Israel, it would be a fatal blow to the US’s image as an ally of Israel and its standing in the Jewish community. Therefore, Obama decided to shelve the resolution, Netanyahu said.

November 30

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

December 2016

Unknown date

The Jerusalem Post “In December, Israel “tried to block [Resolution 2334] and Obama’s people worked behind the scenes to push it. He wouldn’t take Netanyahu’s calls at the time,” the source said. “[Then president-elect Donald] Trump was also involved in trying to stop it. Egypt were sponsors of the resolution, but they pulled their sponsorship because of Trump’s pressure.” Danon found out that there was a second resolution that the Obama administration was quietly supporting, and informed Jerusalem. Danon appealed to his Russian counterpart Vitaly Churkin, and the matter went up to the Netanyahu-Putin level. The Russians did not agree to veto Resolution 2334 condemning settlements, but they were opposed to the second one…“There was the resolution people know about and a second one, which was the parameters for a peace agreement.” Netanyahu enlisted then-president-elect Donald Trump and his staff to try to block Resolution 2334. During those efforts, an Israeli source told the Post this week.

Early December

Washington Post: Both versions began to circulate in early December. The United States, in discussions with New Zealand and indirectly with Egypt, insisted it would not even consider the matter unless the resolutions were more balanced to reflect criticism of Palestinian violence along with condemnation of Israeli settlements, according to U.S. officials…An Egyptian newspaper report alleging that Rice and Kerry met in early December with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and the head of Palestinian intelligence to plot the resolution was false, officials said.

December 1

CNN: Flynn meets the Russian ambassador briefly at Trump tower.

December 2

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Director for National Intelligence James Clapper requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

December 6

US Ambassador to Italy John Phillips and Deputy Chief of Mission to Rome Kelly Degnan requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

December 7

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

December 14

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Director of the CIA John Brennan requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Office of International Affairs, Department of Justice Patrick Conlon requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew and Acting Assistant Arthur Mcglynn and Acting Deputy Assistant Mike Neufeld and Deputy Secretary Sarah Raskin and Under Secretary of Treasury Nathan Sheets, Acting undersecretary Adam Szubin  requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

December 15

Director of the CIA John Brennan requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

US NATO Defense Advisor Robert Bell, US Representative to NATO Military Committee Christenson and US NATO Office of Defense Advisor, Deputy assistant director of NEMc, US NATO Advisor to Ambassador Douglas Lute, US NATO Deputy DEFAD James Hursh, Chief of Syria Group, Deputy Chief of US Mission to NATo Litzenberger, US Permanent Representative to NATO Amb. Douglas Lute, US DOE IN, US NATO Political Officer Scott Parrish, USA DOE Secretary of Energy, US DOE IN, US NAO Political Advisor amir Waser,   requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Director of the FBI James Comey requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Chief of Syria group [name redacted] requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

December 21

Washington Post:The Egyptian draft, tweaked with help from Britain, was submitted to the council on Dec. 21. As often happens when competing and overlapping resolutions circulate, New Zealand and co-sponsors Malaysia, Senegal and Venezuela decided to drop their version and support the nearly identical Egyptian resolution in order to cut short prolonged negotiations and push for a vote. “The United States did not draft or originate this resolution. Nor did we put it forward,” Kerry said in a speech Wednesday. “It was drafted by Egypt . . . which is one of Israel’s closest friends in the region, in coordination with the Palestinians and others.”…“We wanted to see Security Council action,” said a diplomat from one of the sponsors. “We wanted the international community to reaffirm the two-state solution.”

The Mueller Report notes that: “On December 21Egypt submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council calling on Israel to cease settlement activities…the Security Council was scheduled to vote on the resolution the following day…the [Trump] Transition Team regarded the vote as a significant issue wanted to support Israel by opposing the resolution.

Washington Post: In the meantime, however, Egypt came under sharp pressure from Israel — which frequently supports U.S. military aid to Cairo — and from Trump, who called Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. Arab foreign ministers convened a Thursday meeting in Cairo, and by midday, Egypt had withdrawn its resolution. A scheduled 3 p.m. vote was canceled…”Dec. 21, amid his morning workout, an afternoon round of golf and a family dinner with friends, President Obama interrupted his Hawaii vacation to consult by phone with his top national security team in Washington. Egypt had introduced a resolution at the U.N. Security Council condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, and a vote was scheduled for the next day.”

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Trump tweetedon December 22

December 22 

CNN: The Israeli official said that Israel “implored the White House not to go ahead and told them that if they did, we would have no choice but to reach out to President-elect Trump.” An Israeli official told CNN that his country approached the Trump team after it felt that it had failed to persuade the Obama administration to veto the planned vote. “We did reach out to the president-elect,” the official added, “and are deeply appreciative that he weighed in, which was nota simple thing to do.”

The Guardian: After concern regarding the resolution, Trump transition team “directed” him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.

Reuters: A senior Israeli official told Reuters that Israeli officials contacted Trump’s transition team at a “high level” to ask for help after failing to persuade Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration to veto the draft U.N. resolution.

Mueller Report: “Multiple members of the Transition Team, as well as Trump, communicated with foreign government officials to determine their views on the resolution and to rally support to delay the vote or defeat the resolution. [Jared] Kushner led the effort for the Transition Team. Flynn was responsible for the Russian government. Minuted after an early morning phone call with Kushner on December 22, Flynn called Kislyak...he informed Kislyak about the vote and the Transition Team’s opposition to the resolution and requested that Russia vote against or delay the resolution. Later that day Trump spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi about the vote. Ultimately Egypt postponed the vote.

Foreign Policy:  Then-President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team asked the State Department for the names and contact information for the ambassadors and foreign ministers from the U.N. Security Council member nations. State Department officials reportedly denied the request “out of fear that it would us used to scuttle American diplomatic aims,” according to Foreign Policy…A U.S. official added that U.N. ambassador nominee Nikki Haley tried “frantically” calling Samantha Power, the Obama administration’s envoy at the time. Powers did not take Haley’s calls because her advisers “suspected Haley would try to persuade Power to veto the resolution,” Foreign Policy reported.

CNN: Two senior US officials involved in this process vehemently also denied the Israel accusation and also said that the US itself didn’t really know how it was going to vote until Thursday morning.

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List of names of US officials who sought to “unmask” Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

 

December 23

Draft resolution by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela introduced. 

CNN: “President Obama andSecretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN,” a senior Israeli official told CNN. “The US administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel’s back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts and effectively make the Western Wall occupied Palestinian territory,” a senior Israeli official said. Rhodes said Obama made the decision this morning, adding that “there’s one president at a time.” An Obama administration official said “Contrary to some claims, the administration was not involved in formulating the resolution nor have we promoted it.”

Mueller report notes: Throughout the day members of the Transition Team continued to talk with foreign leaders about the resolution with Flynn continuing to lead the outreach with the Russian government.

Kislyak-Flynn call transcript:

Kislyak: Uh, certainly if, uh, the others will put it through to a vote, and I understand my, uh, colleagues tell me that Egyptians are not pressing for a vote.

Flynn: Yeah, there … there, l can tell you that there’s, uh, you know, a litany of countries that are … that we’re talking … I’m .. Pm talking directly to. And … and that. .. Kislyak: I see. Flynn: Basically1 just as I asked you. Kislyak. Yeah. Flynn: And I think there are a few other countries that are going to abstain. Um, Egypt. Egypt is, uh, is in a place, you know, again .. . [pause] You know, the strategic goal is stability in the Middle East. That’s the strategic goal, and … and, you know, between you and I, and you know this, and we know this, and you know … and between Moscow and Washington, we will not achieve stability in the

Flynn, “OK, that. That’s good news.” Kislyak interrupts to continue with his points. Kislyak, “Secondly [PH], if ah, the orders will put it in to the vote and I understand my colleagues tell me that Egyptians are not pressing for the vote. But may be others.”…“allow me to cont. .. ah, to complete my presentation of these points … So, we will try to help ah … to give additional time for the conversation on this issue. But if it is put on vote, for historical reasons, as I explained to you … we cannot ah … other than to support it,” says Kislyak. responding to your telephone call, and our conversations we will try to help to postpone the vote and to allow for consultations.”

Reuters: In the hours before the vote by the 15-member United Nations Security Council on Dec. 23, Flynn also phoned, minutes before the voe, the U.N. missions of Uruguay (Ambassador Luis Bermudez ) and Malaysia (Ambassador Ramlan Bin Ibrahim, who did not pick up the call); and Kushner spoke with Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, according to diplomats familiar with the conversations, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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.”

Security Council Approves Resolution Regarding Israel’s Establishment of Settlements in the OPT – Verbatim Record. “Members of the Council have before them document S/2016/1100, which contains the text of a draft resolution submitted by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.”Resolution is approved as United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.

Washington Post: U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, who had just received the go-ahead from Obama, via a call from White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice, raised her hand high in abstention. The resolution was approved.

Trump, who supported a US veto, tweeted for Israel to “stay strong” until his inauguration.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

CNN: A senior Israeli official had accused the United States of abandoning the Jewish state with its refusal to block the resolution with a veto… Danny Danon, reacted angrily to the vote and issued a sharp parting shot at the Obama administration’s role. “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share and that they would have vetoed this disgraceful resolution. I have no doubt that the new US administration and the incoming UN Secretary General will usher in a new era in terms of the UN’s relationship with Israel,” he said.

December 24

On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “The big loss yesterday for Israel in the United Nations will make it much harder to negotiate peace. Too bad, but we will get it done anyway!”

December 28

President Barack Obama imposes sanctions on Russia in response to the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election. According to court papers, Kislyak contacts Flynn.

Director for National Intelligence James Clapper requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

US Ambassador to Turkey Bass requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

John Kerry gives long speech about Israel and peace. “Now, I’d like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy and provide some context for why we could not in good conscience stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace….I am compelled to respond today [to Israel Ambassador Danny Danon] that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.”

December 29

According to the AP Flynn calls a “senior official” K.T. McFarland on the presidential transition. “Flynn and the official, who is with Trump and other senior advisers at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, discuss what, if anything, to tell Kislyak about the US sanctions.” The New Yorker noted“Flynn consulted McFarland about what, if anything, he should convey to the Russian Ambassador.”

The Flynn-Kislyak call: First, Kislyak wants to discuss the Middle East policy. The Russians want to convey to the President-elect that the Russians will not be supporting the American colleagues at the Security Council. Flynn says it is good.  Flynn wants to convey the following [to Moscow]: Do not allow this administration to box us in right now!

KISLYAK: We wanted to convey to you and through you to the President Elect that we had uh significant reservations about the idea of adopting now the principles for the Middle East~ uh~ that our American colleagues are pushing for. So we are not going to support it to – in the quartet, or in the Security Council. And we have conveyed to our American colleagues. So in the spirit of full transparency I was asked to infonn you as well. FLYNN: Okay. KfSL YAK: So it’s not something that we – Russia – are going to support.

FLYNN: Certainly will relay it. And then uh, I appreciate very much the uh, reservations about the current administration’s position on the Middle East. That – that does not do anybody any good right now, with – I mean, you know, you know Ambassador, the situation with Hamas, and the Palestinian situation, I mean, we’ 11 come up with a solution that’s good for everybody. We will.

January 4

NY Post:  The leadership of the FBI scrambled to reopen a case against Flynn.

January 5

Chief of Staff to the President of the United Stated Denis McDonough requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

NYPost: Yates, Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper briefed Obama on Russia-related matters in the Oval Office. Biden and Rice also attended…After the Obama briefing, the intelligence chiefs who would be leaving at the end of the term were dismissed and Yates and Comey, who would continue in the Trump administration, were asked to stay….Obama also talked about Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislya

January 7

Director for National Intelligence James Clapper requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Dempsey, and Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stephanie O’Sullivan, requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

January 11

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

“We have unequivocal evidence that the Security Council Resolution passed in the UN against Israel was led by the Administration. There is no question whatsoever about that,” Netanyahu says.

January 12

Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

Vice President Joe Biden requests documents that led to the identity of former national security adviser Michael Flynn being “unmasked” in intelligence reports.

NYPost: “The next part of the strategy was the explosive leak to David Ignatius of the Washington Post to legitimize the use against Flynn of the Logan Act.”; On January 12, 2017Washington Post columnist David Ignatius reported that Flynn had phoned Kislyak “several times on Dec. 29.”

January 15:

Axios: Pence, on “Face the Nation”,denies sanctions were discussed between Flynn and Russia. Reince Priebus denies it on “Meet the Press.” Flynn refuses to sign off on an plan for the SDF to take Raqqa, which Turkey opposed.

January 20

Trump inauguration

January 23

Bloomberg: The handwritten notes unsealed spell out that the agents’ goal was to “determine if Mike Flynn is going to tell the truth,” while indicating that the FBI had evidence to put Flynn on-the-spot to prove he was lying, according to the filing. But a note also posed a question about another possible outcome from the interview: “get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

FoxNews: The FBI possessedword-for-word transcripts of Flynn’s December 2016 conversations with Kislyak, and publicly admitted to reviewing those transcripts and clearing Flynn of any wrongdoing.

January 24

Flynn is interviewed by FBI agents investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. According to court papers, Flynn is accused of lying to the agents about his contacts with Kislyak. “During the January 24 voluntary interview, Flynn made additional false statements about calls he made to Russia and several other countries regarding a resolution submitted by Egypt to the United Nations Security Council on December 21, 2016,” prosecution documents said.

January 26

Sally Yates briefs White House counsel about a sensitive matter related to Flynn.

February 13

Flynn resigns from his White House post.

May 7, 2020

The Justice Department drops the criminal case against Flynn.

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