Michael Flynn to Plead Guilty Over False Statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation

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Former national security advisor to Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty [plea agreement, PDF] Friday to charges of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The retired Army lt. general whined about how "extraordinarily painful" special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign had been for him.

To start with, and there are already reports to this effect, Flynn can say it was President-elect Trump and/or other Trump aides who directed him to say what he did to Kislyak.

He is prepared to testify that, as a candidate, Trump "directed him to make contact with the Russians". 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.

"My guilty plea and agreement to co-operate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country".

Flynn is the first Trump White House official to be charged with a crime in connection to Mueller's investigation.

He was forced to resign that post in February, just weeks after the president took office, due to public concerns over his contacts with Russian Federation.

Flynn denies that he discussed USA sanctions against Russian Federation with Kislyak. At a minimum, that would mean Trump was covertly behind those contacts and that the president knew about the content of the Flynn-Kislyak meetings last December even as other senior officials, including Vice President Pence, were in the dark and publicly exonerated Flynn.

Flynn's admission was part of a statement of facts read out in court before Flynn pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors also cite an earlier December meeting, in which Flynn asked Kislyak to delay or defeat a UN Security Council resolution.

Before the vote, the Israeli government lobbied the Obama administration to kill the resolution, but the efforts fell flat.

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Because the Obama administration had expelled 35 Russian diplomats that same day to retaliate against Moscow's meddling in the 2016 campaign, my column posed the basic question: "What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the USA sanctions?"

While the two interactions do not indicate a clear instance of collusion, they raise questions about the Trump team's dealings with Moscow before taking office - and whether they actively worked to undermine Obama's policies.

"The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year", he continued.

"Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn", he said.

Friday's news made clear that Trump's inner circle, if not the president himself, are increasingly under threat by Mueller's investigation. Congressional staff have done the same with respect to their separate probes.

Former FBI director James Comey, whose firing by Trump led to the appointment of Mueller, sent out a tweet quoting a bible verse shortly after the news was announced.

Since the first allegations of Russian interference a year ago, Trump has dismissed it as "fake news" and an excuse for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's stunning loss in the election.

But Trump has repeatedly rejected that view.

"Nothing that I heard, your honor", Flynn replied.

Donald Trump and Michael Flynn speak at a campaign rally in Colorado on October 18, 2016.

. Trump, who publicly fretted about his desire to have Mueller wrap up his investigation sooner rather than later, and who supposedly will "blow a gasket" if he isn't exonerated by year's end, will now watch as Mueller proceeds full steam ahead, bolstered by Flynn's input.

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