President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador, CNN reports.
The single charge is in relation to discussions Flynn made in late 2016 during the transition period between President Donald Trump’s Election Day victory and his inauguration on January 20, 2017. NPR reports that Flynn spoke with the, “Russian ambassador to the U.S. about sanctions the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia and about a U.N. Security Council resolution.”
These charges are apart of a string of investigations led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team, and the first charge from Mueller to hit the current White House administration directly.
JUST IN: @BrianRoss on @ABC News Special Report: Michael Flynn promised “full cooperation to the Mueller team” and is prepared to testify that as a candidate, Donald Trump “directed him to make contact with the Russians.” https://t.co/aiagnvr8eS pic.twitter.com/r8u2LWAd0O
— ABC News (@ABC) December 1, 2017
President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gate were indicted last month, they both pled not guilty. While President Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulous pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government. Making Flynn the fourth member of President Donald Trump’s administration to be charged before his first year of office is complete.
Michael Flynn resigned from his position as national security adviser in February of 2017 amidst President Donald Trump asking him, “after he misled Pence and then-chief of staff Reince Priebus about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in which they discussed US sanctions against Russia,” according to CNN. The 58-year old retired general claimed the highest rank in the Army over the course of three decades and found himself playing a vital role in the Trump administration’s national security and foreign policy decisions for the brief time he was there.
On the heels of Flynn’s departure and Mueller’s investigation heating up, more information regarding Flynn and his ties to Russia slowly came to light. The New York Times reported that in 2015, he was paid to attend a dinner in Moscow where he was seated at the same table as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. The New York Times also reports that Flynn was, “ an intense and vocal advocate of closer relations with Putin, arguing that the United States must work with the Russians to battle extremists.” Upon his appointment Flynn, only emphasized this more.
While the extent to which Flynn holds ties to Russia is still coming to light, ABC News reported that, “Flynn promised full cooperation to the Mueller team and is prepared to testify that candidate Trump “directed him to make contact with the Russians.”
The maximum possible sentence Flynn could face is five years in prison. The White House has declined to make any immediate comments.