Inside the Trump Team’s Lobbying Blitz on 2016 U.N. Israel Vote
Failed outreach, cited in Flynn plea deal, was wider than has been reported
In the days before a late-2016 vote on a United Nations resolution that criticized Israel, then-President-elect Donald Trump and top aides made a last-ditch push to target a majority of the U.N. Security Council to scuttle the text, people familiar with the situation said.
The lobbying effort, which ultimately failed, was wider and more intense than has been reported, according to interviews with dozens of diplomats and U.S. officials. It was also conducted against the wishes of the sitting U.S. government. The Obama administration’s decision to abstain from the vote criticizing Israel’s settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank was what enabled the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the country’s settlements for the first time in 36 years.
Mr. Flynn in last month’s plea agreement admitted to having placed calls to officials from multiple countries, including Russia, about the Israel resolution and to having “falsely stated” to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he had only asked the countries about their position on the text. In fact, “a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team”—Mr. Kushner, according to people familiar with the matter—“directed Flynn” to contact the officials to “influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution,” according to the documents, which didn’t provide further details on the matter.
Lawyers are arguing on whether or not this is a violation of the Logan Act which bars unauthorized private citizens from negotiating with foreign officials in a dispute with the U.S.