Flynn Admits to Lying to FBI
WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia, becoming the first Trump White House official to face criminal charges and admit guilt so far in the wide-ranging election investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Flynn also agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe, which focuses on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s team in the campaign that sent the Republican businessman to the White House.
lynn spent just 25 days in the White House, but his actions — and the Russia investigations broadly — have shadowed Trump throughout the year, angering the president and repeatedly distracting from his agenda. Flynn’s plea came hours before Republican senators hoped to pass a far-reaching tax bill, which would be a significant victory for Trump.
Court papers make clear that Flynn knows the identities of at least two members of Trump’s transition team who were intimately aware of his outreach to Russian government officials in the weeks before the inauguration. Mueller’s prosecutors did not reveal the names of the officials, but indicated they were senior and within Trump’s inner circle.
Those officials discussed the details of what Flynn was supposed to communicate to the Russians about U.S. sanctions imposed by Obama administration. One of the officials, described as a “very senior member” of the presidential transition, also directed Flynn to contact foreign government officials, including Russia’s, about a U.N. Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements.
On Friday, Trump ignored reporters’ shouted questions as he welcomed the Libyan prime minister to the White House, and aides canceled media access to a later meeting between the two. Flynn visited his son’s house in Virginia shortly after he entered his guilty plea.
Flynn was an early and vocal Trump supporter on the campaign trail and was present for consequential moments in the campaign, the following transition period and the early days of Trump’s presidency, making him a valuable potential tool for prosecutors and agents. His business dealings and foreign interactions have made him a central focus of Mueller’s investigation.
Trump’s former national security adviser admitted to lying about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the transition period before Trump’s inauguration.
In a statement, Flynn, a 58-year-old retired Army lieutenant general, said he accepted responsibility for his actions and added: “My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country.”
Flynn is the fourth former Trump associate to face charges in the investigation, the first who actually served in Trump’s White House. He has been under investigation for a wide range of allegations, including lobbying work on behalf of Turkey, but the fact that he was charged only with a single count of false statements suggests he is cooperating with Mueller in exchange for leniency.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb sought to distance the plea from Trump himself, saying, “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”