Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI, the first Trump White House official to make a guilty plea so far in a wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The mainstream media has worked themselves into a frenzy of excitement. The White House, though, seems unfazed.
Court documents show Flynn, whose business dealings and foreign interactions made him a central focus of Mueller’s investigation, will admit to lying about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the transition period before Trump’s inauguration.
In response, Trump’s White House issued the following statement
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.
In other words, everything we’ve already known. This is what Trump fired him over, after all — so don’t expect impeachment hearings quite yet.
The guilty plea makes the retired Army lieutenant general the first person to have actually worked in the Trump White House to face formal charges in the investigation, which is examining Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Flynn has been under investigation for a wide range of allegations, including lobbying work on behalf of Turkey, but the fact that he was charged only with a single count of false statements suggests he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation in exchange for leniency. He was present for consequential moments in the campaign, the transition period and the early days of Trump’s presidency, campaign, making him a valuable potential tool for prosecutors and agents.
White House insiders aren’t worried, however.
“Poor judgment. But this was expected. Trump fired him for lying to [Vice President Mike Pence]. Of course, he lied to the FBI, too,” an insider said.
Flynn, who was interviewed by the FBI just days after Trump’s inauguration, was forced to resign in February after White House officials said he had misled them about whether he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Administration officials said Flynn had not discussed sanctions that had been imposed on Russia in part over election meddling. In charging Flynn, prosecutors made clear they believe that claim to be false.
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Days after Flynn’s interview with the FBI, then-acting attorney general, Sally Yates alerted White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was potentially compromised and vulnerable to blackmail because of discrepancies between public assertions — including by Vice President Mike Pence — that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions and the reality of what occurred.
Flynn was fired 25 days after assuming office for those lies.
The Associated Press contributed to this article