President Donald J. Trump’s ousted national security adviser Michael T. Flynn is preparing to say that the president directed him to make contact with Russians and pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about his meetings with the Russian ambassador just a month before he assumed the White House role.
ABC reported that Mr. Flynn is making preparations to implicate Mr. Trump in a sprawling investigation into allegations that Trump campaign team colluded with Russians during 2016 presidential elections.
In a separate development, Special Counsel Robert Mueller scheduled a hearing on Friday morning for Gen. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his two discussions with the Russian ambassador. The former Trump aide also released a statement on Friday, confirming his guilty plea and said he is cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s investigation.
In a federal district court hearing on Friday, Prosecutor Brandon L. Van Grack said “a very senior member of the transition team directed” the retired general to meet with the Russian envoy and at another instance, Mr. Flynn called a senior official of the Trump team at Mar-a-Lago to discuss a U.N. resolution he talked with the ambassador.
In the statement, Mr. Flynn said it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of “false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts.” Such false accusations, Mr. Flynn said, are contrary to everything “I have ever done and stood for.”
The former national security adviser said he recognizes that the actions he acknowledged in court on Friday were wrong.
“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.”
Michael Flynn arrives at federal court ahead of his plea hearing in the special counsel's probe. (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/Ell26GB79N
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 1, 2017
Mr. Flynn is possibly facing a number of charges, but this is the first time that Mr. Mueller is charging the retired general. With Friday’s indictment, Mr. Flynn becomes fourth Trump aide to be charged with a crime.
Lawyers representing Mr. Flynn recently informed lawyers of President Trump that they are no longer at liberty to discuss special counsel’s investigation, an indication that Mr. Flynn was cooperating with the probe.
Mr. Flynn served as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser for 24 days. He was forced to resign for misleading White House officials about his contacts with Russian officials, including two discussions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey I. Kislyak.
The retired general has also been in hot water for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist for Turkey. Mr. Mueller is looking into his ties with Turkey during the 2016 presidential campaign.