WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, plead guilty to one count to lying to the FBI as part of an agreement reached with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mueller charged Flynn with “willfully and knowingly” making false statements to the FBI regarding his conversations with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn arrived at the federal courthouse in Washington about seven minutes before a scheduled 10:30 a.m. ET plea agreement hearing, where he appeared before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.
The guilty plea has raised speculation that Flynn has reached an agreement to cooperate with Mueller as he looks into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian interests. Flynn faced other potential criminal charges.
The one charge of making a false statement stems from a Jan. 24 query from FBI agents on his contact with Kislyak the previous month. According to Mueller’s complaint, Flynn lied when he denied that, in a Dec. 29 conversation, he asked Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation” in Russia’s response to the imposition of sanctions by the Obama administrations. Flynn also denied that Kislyak told him that Russia would moderate its reaction.
Mueller’s complaint also claims that Flynn lied when he denied that he asked Kislyak on Dec. 22 that Russia should delay a vote on a United Nations Security Council resolution on Israel.
Flynn resigned in February, just weeks into his tenure as national security adviser, after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his contact with Kislyak. He had denied that he had discussed the newly-imposed sanctions with the Russian ambassador, when in fact transcripts of his phone conversations showed that he had, according to the Washington Post, which broke the news.
Flynn also faced other legal troubles. He had failed to disclose that he was lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government, as is required by federal law.
On Oct. 30, Mueller’s team brought charges against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, and his associate, Rick Gates, on multiple charges including money laundering stemming from their work as lobbyists on behalf of the government of Ukraine. That same day, a legal filing was unsealed that showed that George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s campaign, plead guilty to making false statements to FBI agents about the extent of his contact with sources connected to the Russian government.
The full complaint against Flynn is here.
Flynn is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, who joined Trump’s campaign as an adviser and spoke at the Republican National Convention. He had served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during President Barack Obama’s term, but was reportedly forced out after clashing with other defense officials and complaints over his management of the agency. Obama reportedly warned Trump against hiring Flynn in their first meeting at the White House after the election.
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