Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to willingly and knowingly make false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in relation to discussions with the Russian Ambassador on or about December 22 and 29 2016.
Flynn’s discussions with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador, were part of a coordinated effort by Trump’s aides to create foreign policy before they were in power, documents released as part of Flynn’s plea agreement show.
Item 3.c. of the Statement of the Offense states:
‘On or about December 29, 2016, Flynn called a senior official of the Presidential Transition Team (“PTT Official”), who was with other senior members of the Presidential Transition Team at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to discuss what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian Ambassador about the U.S. sanctions. On that call, Flynn and the PTT official discussed the U.S. sanctions, including the potential impact of those sanctions on the incoming administration’s foreign policy goals. The PTT official and Flynn also discussed that the members of the Presidential Transition team at Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation.’
Item 3.d. of the Statement of the Offense states:
‘Immediately after his phone call with the PTT official, Flynn called the Russian Ambassador and requested that Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner.’
Item 3.g. of the Statement of the Offense states:
‘On or about December 31, 2016, the Russian Ambassador called Flynn and informed him that Russia had chosen not to retaliate in response to Flynn’s request
Item 4.b. of the Statement of the Offense states:
‘On or about December 22, 2016, a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to learn where each government stood on the resolution and to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution’
The documents do not disclose what Trump knew about Mr. Flynn’s discussions. But in item 4.b. of the Statement of Offense it reads that Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of the presidential transition team to discuss a United Nations resolution.
The transition team was led by Vice President Mike Pence. Its top members included Jared Kushner; Reince Priebus, and K.T. McFarland, who was Mr. Flynn’s deputy and was later appointed to be the ambassador to Singapore. Flynn spoke to Ms. McFarland about another of his conversations with Sergei Kislyak, according to the lawyer.
Details of the counts are as follows:
The admission of guilt by Flynn has the potential to reshape the public’s understanding of what the president’s associates said and did in the days after Trump’s unexpected victory in the 2016 US Presidential election.
Flynn’s plea deal could deeply undercut the claims made in January by Trump and his aides that they were misled by Mr. Flynn about his discussion with Russians regarding sanctions imposed on Moscow by the Obama administration over the election interference.
James Comey, the former Director of the FBI, has previously testified in fornt of congress that Trump had asked him “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
In May, Trump fired Comey and said the Russia investigation was on his mind at the time. Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s firings of Comey or Flynn amount to obstruction of justice.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” Ty Cobb, Trump’s lawyer said in response to Flynn’s deal.
To date Trump’s former campaign chairman, two campaign aides and his former National Security Advisor have now all been charged.
In a statement, Mr. Flynn, added “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. 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.”
Trump’s response to Flynn deal
On Saturday, December 2, 2017 trump tweeted “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
On Sunday December, 3, 2017 Trump tweeted “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”
Lying to the FBI is a crime, and one which Flynn has now pleaded guilty to.
It’s unclear why Trump would add that lying to the FBI was one of his reasons for firing Flynn. Doing so suggests the president knew at the time that Flynn had done something that is against the law, this raises the possibility that Mueller’s investigation has legs.
The full and complete plea deal offered to Flynn is as follows: