Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI

Dismissal and investigation

On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned as National Security Advisor, following news reports about his communications with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak and additional reports that he had misled the Vice President about them. Flynn’s 24-day tenure as National Security Advisor was the shortest in the 63-year history of the office. Those communications he had with the Russian ambassador were subsequently leaked to the press.

Commenting on Flynn′s resignation, on February 14 White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated, “We got to a point not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue, where a level of trust between the President and General Flynn had eroded to the point where he felt he had to make a change … The issue here was that the President got to the point where General Flynn’s relationship – misleading the Vice President and others, or the possibility that he had forgotten critical details of this important conversation had created a critical mass and an unsustainable situation. That’s why the President decided to ask for his resignation, and he got it.”

That same day (February 14), President Trump met with FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office and reportedly told him “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go” adding “he’s a good guy.” Comey subsequently testified that, “I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December … I did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign”. The propriety, and even the legality, of these words that Trump reportedly said to Comey about Flynn have become a subject of considerable public debate. Several months after dismissing Flynn, Trump also dismissed Comey, which Comey attributed to the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Flynn had offered to testify to the FBI or the Senate and House Intelligence committees relating to the Russia probe in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution. However, the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Flynn’s offer for testimony in exchange for immunity. Flynn initially declined to respond to a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, but he and the committee later struck a compromise. The Pentagon inspector general is also investigating whether Flynn accepted money from foreign governments without the required approval.

On November 5, 2017, NBC News reported that Robert Mueller has enough evidence for charges against Flynn and his son; Michael G. Flynn. On November 10, The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn is under investigation by Mueller for allegedly planning a kidnapping and extrajudicial rendition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen to Turkey. On November 22, NBC News reported that Michael T. Flynn’s business partner Bijan Kian is a subject of the Mueller probe. NBC has also reported that a Turkish businessman named Reza Zarrab, who was picked up last year by U.S. authorities in Miami on Iranian sanctions violations and money laundering charges, is offering evidence against the subject.

On November 23, 2017, it was reported that Flynn’s lawyers have notified Trump’s legal team they can no longer discuss anything regarding Mueller’s investigation, suggesting that Flynn may be cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal.

Plea bargain and statement of offense

On December 1, 2017, special counsel Robert Mueller agreed to a plea bargain where Flynn pleaded guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador. Specifically, Flynn is accused of falsely claiming that he had not asked Russia’s ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016, “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day.” Flynn pleaded guilty the same day and acknowledged that he was cooperating with the investigation by Mueller. Flynn stated;

It has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of “treason” and other outrageous acts….Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But 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.

Bloomberg reporter Eli Lake wrote in an opinion piece on December 1, 2017, that two former Trump transition team officials provided information indicating that Jared Kushner was the senior member of the team described in Flynn’s plea documents as having directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, asking them to delay or vote against a United Nations resolution on the issue of Israeli settlements, contrary to the still-incumbent Obama administration’s position of support for the resolution. This was also confirmed by other news outlets, who cited multiple sources.

Sentencing of Flynn has been deferred several times,the last time on July 10, 2018. As part of Flynn’s plea negotiations, his son, Michael G. Flynn, is not expected to be charged.

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