It was a (red) star-studded affair, the December 2015 dinner celebrating the 10th birthday of Russian TV network RT. At a luxe Moscow hotel, President Vladimir Putin and a host of Russian luminaries toasted a state-backed news channel that U.S. intelligence calls a Kremlin mouthpiece. And next to Putin at the head table, in the seat of honor, was an American. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who would later become Donald Trump's national security adviser, was already advising Trump's presidential campaign when he was paid $45,000 to speak at the gala. "It is not coincidence that Flynn was placed next to President Putin," said Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador in Moscow from 2012 to 2014 and now an NBC News analyst. "Flynn was considered a close Trump adviser. Why else would they want him there?"
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