Former President Barack Obama's State Department spokesman Mark Toner was well aware of contact between incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and he was asked if there was a problem with it.
“Not necessarily,” Toner responded on Jan. 13, when a reporter asked him if contact between Flynn and the Russian ambassador during the Trump transition period was concerning to the Obama administration.
“He's part of the transition team, that's really for him to speak to and how they are engaging. ... The president elect is also engaged on his own with many world leaders,” Toner continued.
Toner was also asked if contact was inappropriate between the incoming administration and foreign officials, no matter what country they're from.
“No," Toner responded. Instead of showing outrage, Toner offered help. "We stand ready if they [Trump transition team] want to work through the State Department to contact some of these individuals.”
“We have no comment or no problem with them doing such on their own,” Toner concluded.
President Trump reiterated that point Saturday, tweeting Flynn's situation "is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz said that Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador during the transition period was not only legal, but it was the “right thing to do to stop the president — lame duck — from tying his hands.”