Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty To Lying to F.B.I.
Guilty Plea Includes Full Cooperation In Russian Investigation
President Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I about his dealings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Adding to the guilty plea, Mr. Flynn has pledged to fully cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election meddling, becoming the first from the Trump administration to do so.
Court documents revealed that the discussions with the Russian ambassador were part of a coordinated effort by several members of the Trump campaign to coordinate foreign policy before President Trump had taken office. The documents also show that a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team directed the conversations to take place. Lawyers representing the President believe that official to be Jared Kushner, son-in-law and close advisor to President Trump.
Michael Flynn’s guilty plea provides a new stage for Counsel Mueller and could prove to be dangerous to some in the former and current Trump administration. The documents show that several members of the Trump administration knew the conversations were happening and even coordinated the efforts. These documents undermine the statements made by President Trump and his team in January, affirming that they did not have knowledge of Mr. Flynn’s activities with the Russian government.
At the hearing, prosecutors focused their attention on Mr. Flynn’s association with Russia during President Trump’s campaign, before the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was decided. The conversations with Russian Ambassador Kislyak were said to concern the sanctions placed on Russia by then President Obama relating to election meddling.
The White House has since distanced themselves from Mr. Flynn, stating that he was present in the administration for a limited time and worked in the Obama administration previously as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Ty Cobb, the President’s lawyer, brushed off Mr. Flynn’s guilty plea saying, “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”
Mr. Flynn was a large proponent of closer relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2016 campaign. Controversy surrounded Mr. Flynn even before being appointed to national security advisor by President Trump, as he attended a paid dinner with Mr. Putin in 2015.
Michael Flynn becomes the fourth person connected to the Trump administration to be charged with a felony. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his deputy, Rick Gates, and former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadoupoulos being the others. The White House believes Mr. Flynn’s guilty plea means Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation is nearing an end. However, others say this is the breakthrough Robert Mueller needed.