Former national security adviser to the US President, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty today on the count of falsely testifying to FBI on the events concerning the investigation into Russian influence on the Presidential Election. Experts consider this a new breakthrough in the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, with reports that the four-star general is cooperating with the investigators.
Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements about contacts he had in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, during the transition period after Trump was elected and before he was sworn in. The charges carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.
According to the charge sheet, Michael Flynn is accused of falsely telling FBI agents that on or about 29 December 2016 he did not ask Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day”. He also failied to recall that Kislyak had later told him Moscow was moderating its response to the sanctions as a result of his request
Also, according to the charges, he falsely said that on or about 22 December 2016 he did not ask Kislyak to “delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution”. Although there is no detail of the resolution in question, the discussion came a day before the Obama administration decided not to veto a resolution asserting that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory “had no legal validity”.
Flynn struck a deal – ABC
Flynn had initially resisted cooperating with the investigation, according to people close to the retired general. However, according the ABC News, he has been facing mounting legal debts and plans to sell his house to help defray costs.
He only recently learned the full scope of the charges he could potentially face. Last week, Trump lawyers received calls from his legal representative Robert Kelner, alerting them that he could no longer participate in information exchanges with other possible Mueller targets. This was considered the first public indication that a plea deal was in the works.
“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. I accept full responsibility for my actions,” Flynn said.
Investigation moves on
These events are bad news for the former POTUS adviser, but it could be even worse news for Donald Trump himself, BBC reports. He reportedly directly lobbied former FBI Director James Comey to back off the Flynn investigation before firing him, .
In October, two members of Trump’s campaign staff, former campaign chair Paul Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates, were indicted on 12 counts brought by Mueller’s team related to work done prior to joining the Trump campaign, including conspiracy against the US, conspiracy to launder money and serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal.
That same day, it was also revealed that a third Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty earlier in the month to making false statements to FBI agents probing his attempts to arrange a meeting between Russian officials and the campaign.