Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn will plead guilty Friday to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador, according to court documents.
Flynn arrived at court Friday morning.
Special counsel Robert Mueller has charged Flynn with “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador.
The White House declined to immediately comment.
Flynn is the first Trump administration official and the fourth connected to the campaign to be charged as part of Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Russian government and members of Trump’s team, as well as potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes.
Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted last month; they pleaded not guilty. And Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government.
The charge against Flynn is the first in Mueller’s probe that has reached someone in the Trump White House and is the latest sign that the special counsel’s investigation is intensifying.
Flynn’s lawyers have previously criticized media reports about his connection to the Russia investigation as peddling “unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed against him.” Flynn hasn’t spoken publicly since his ouster in February.
The charges mark yet another stunning downfall for Flynn, 58, a retired general who rose to the highest ranks of the Army over a three-decade career — only to see him drummed out of the military by the Obama administration before unexpectedly rising again on the heels of Trump’s election victory.
A key campaign surrogate and adviser during President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Flynn was tapped as Trump’s national security adviser in November 2016, a senior White House job that put him in a vital role for all of the administration’s national security and foreign policy decisions.
Though he wasn’t initially considered for the top job, Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner made it clear to the Trump transition team that they wanted him there, CNN has reported.
Flynn would hold the job less than a month, resigning from the post after he misled Vice President Mike Pence and then-chief of staff Reince Priebus about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in which they discussed US sanctions against Russia.
Flynn is also the spark of potential trouble for the President in Mueller’s probe, as the special counsel is investigating potential obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
Comey testified before the Senate intelligence committee that Trump asked him to drop the Flynn probe during a February Oval Office meeting not long after Flynn resigned as national security adviser.