Former Trump security adviser admits lying to FBI

Michael Flynn signs plea agreement, will fully cooperate with probe of Russian interference in presidential election.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Michael Flynn
Michael Flynn

President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Friday morning pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents, The Hill reported.

As part of the agreement, Flynn has agreed to cooperate fully with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

For the time being he will remain free — although the charge he faces carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, noted The Hill.

Flynn is the first official to hold a formal office in the Trump administration to be brought down by the Mueller probe, which is examining potential ties between the campaign and Moscow during the 2016 campaign.

Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation in February, after it was revealed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S.

According to court documents filed by Mueller, Flynn lied when he told investigators that he did not ask then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to "refrain from escalating the situation" in response to sanctions that then-President Barack Obama had levied on Russia in response to meddling in the election.

Flynn also lied, the counsel charged, when he said he did not ask the ambassador to stymie an unrelated United Nations Security Council vote.

Prosecutors told U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras that Flynn spoke with a "senior official" in President’s Trump's transition team at the Mar-a-Lago resort to discuss what he should communicate to the Russian ambassador during the calls.

Flynn and the senior officials discussed both the recently implemented U.S. sanctions on Russia, as well as the fact that they did not want Russia to escalate friction between the two nations, prosecutors said, according to The Hill.

After the discussion, Flynn telephoned Kislyak. He then called the senior transition official and reported the sanctions discussion, prosecutors said.

Shortly after that phone call, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia would not retaliate against Obama's sanctions at that time. Kislyak later followed up with Flynn and affirmed that Russia would moderate its response to the sanctions. Flynn communicated that exchange to other transition officials.

Prosecutors also say that a "very senior member" of the president's transition team "directed" Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments — including Russia — to persuade them to vote against a UN Security Council resolution. Flynn obtained such assurances from Kislyak.

A White House lawyer who is handling matters related to the various Russia investigations said Friday that the false statements Flynn made to the FBI “mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.”

“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” the lawyer, Ty Cobb, said in a statement.

Flynn was interviewed by the FBI as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the election in January when Mueller's office now says he made false statements about the phone calls with Kislyak. The interview came just four days after Trump’s inauguration.

Flynn had previously offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees — which are both investigating Russian interference in the election — in exchange for immunity, but neither committee had accepted the offer.

Two other campaign officials, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his aide Richard Gates, also face charges in the investigation. They have both pleaded not guilty.

Flynn said in a statement on Friday "it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of 'treason' ... But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)