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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Ex-Trump aide Flynn pleads guilty and will co-operate with investigators on Russia probe

Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has been charged with a felony

Michael Flynn is expected to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his talk with the Russian ambassador to the US. AP Photo
Michael Flynn is expected to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his talk with the Russian ambassador to the US. AP Photo

In a bombshell announcement on Friday morning in Washington, former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn was charged with a felony and pleaded guilty on one count for making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 24.

In a statement confirming his cooperation, Mr Flynn said: “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.”

Legal analysts interpreted the news as prelude to a deal between Mr Flynn and office of special counsel Robert Mueller, clearing the way for his cooperation in the Russia probe.

Mr Flynn, one of closest aides to Donald Trump from the beginning of the Presidential campaign and former national security adviser until his resignation on February 13, appeared before U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras at 10.30 am on Friday. He pleaded guilty on one count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with former Russian ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak during the transition.

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The conversations, according to US authorities, entailed sanctions related to Russia, and asking the ambassador to delay a vote on United Nations Security Council resolution about Israel.

Susan Hennessey, a legal expert at Brookings told CNN that the fact that Mr Flynn was charged on one minor count as opposed to the many allegations reported against him in lobbying efforts, ties to Turkish government, suggests “he will cooperate with investigators”, and could be headed for a plea deal.

Mr Trump remained silent on his otherwise bustling twitter account this morning.

Ty Cobb, a White House official, said in a statement that: “Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.

“The false statements involved 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 conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel's work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

The Mike Flynn revelations are already approaching the close circle around Mr Trump. Buzzfeed reported a few hours after the plea that senior adviser to the President and his son-in-law is the one who called Mr Flynn in December and told him to call members of the UN Security Council [including Russia] “in an effort to stop a vote on a resolution critical of Israeli settlement policy, according to a person who was present in the room when Flynn took the call.”

On December 22, Mr Flynn called former Russian ambassador to Washington Mr Kislyak to discuss the UNSC vote but lied to FBI investigators about it on January 24 leading to the count filed today.

“Jared called Flynn and told him you need to get on the phone to every member of the Security Council and tell them to delay the vote,” the person who witnessed the call told Buzzfeed.

Read the full court statement: