Federal prosecutors working under Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election secured a guilty plea Friday from Michael T. Flynn, former general and Trump adviser.
Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI regarding his contact with Russian government officials in the months following the election. The plea was part of an arrangement in which Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation in exchange for no further prosecution on the matter.
The retired general, who served as a surrogate during President Trump's campaign before being appointed his National Security Adviser, is the fourth person to be directly implicated in Mueller's probe. In October, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, were indicted on unrelated federal money laundering charges. The same month, George Papadopoulos, another campaign adviser, pleaded guilty to making false statements.
While contact with Russian officials during the transition is not a crime, lying to investigators about it is. Flynn famously attacked then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's handling of a private email server at the Republican National Convention last year, saying "If I did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today."
Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia and an impeding United Nations vote with Russian officials and members of Trump's transition team last year, according to court documents.
The White House sought to distance itself from Flynn on Friday.
"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," a Friday statement from White House lawyer Ty Cobb read.
Trump took to Twitter Saturday to comment on the news.
Trump's firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May is in part what led to the creation of a special counsel in the first place. Trump again took to Twitter on Sunday, this time to say he did not ask Comey to see an end to investigation into Flynn, an event which Comey has testified did happen.
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