UPDATE: ABC’s Brian Ross has reported that he heard Flynn testify that President Trump “directed him to make contact with the Russians,” during the plea hearing.  SOFREP has not been able to independently corroborate this report.  According to the ABC’s sources, Flynn is “prepared to testify” against the sitting president as a part of his plea deal.

 

Former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States early Friday morning, according to court filing made by the U.S. special counsel’s office.

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,” Flynn said in a statement released after his hearing.  “After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts,” Flynn said.

The charges specifically cite Flynn for “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

Flynn’s guilty plea indicates that the former general has been cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between a Russian influence campaign that went on during the 2016 Presidential Election and President Trump’s campaign.  Flynn’s ties to the Russian government predate his involvement in Trump’s campaign, and it remains unclear if the charges against Flynn represent a significant step toward linking the President to Russian efforts, or if these charges are indicative of Flynn’s own dealings.  However, among the incidents said to be under investigation was an apparent meeting between Flynn, the Russian Ambassador, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.  This meeting reportedly took place after the election, during the President’s transition process.

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It has been revealed throughout the past year that Russian officials sought audiences with Trump campaign officials on more than one occasion, often promising compromising information about Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was the target of much of Russia’s influence efforts.  It has also been revealed that Russia’s work to manipulate perceptions within the United States were not limited to the election, and have also included paying to boost the “reach” of social media posts that encouraged growing racial tensions in the United States, including the funding of Black Lives Matter posts and contradictory white nationalist posts in the same communities.

It was surmised that Flynn had transitioned toward fully cooperating with the U.S. special counsel’s office earlier this week, when his attorney’s announced that they would no longer be providing regular updates to President Trump’s legal team regarding the matter.  The lawyers working in Flynn’s defense likely ended their cooperative dialogue with the president’s team of lawyers as the interests of the two parties lapsed, with Flynn likely now trying to demonstrate his value to the investigation in the interest of receiving a plea deal for the charges filed this morning.

A former 3-star general, Flynn was tapped to be President Trump’s National Security Advisor after the successful campaign, but was forced to resign only one month into the president’s term after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. at the time, Sergey Kislyak.  Those conversations reportedly involved the suspension of sanctions levied against Russia after the 2014 military annexation of Crimea.

 

Image courtesy of the Associated Press