Special counsel Robert Mueller investigating possible Russian involvement in the US elections and matters arising thereof has claimed another victim. Michael Flynn, who was close to Donald Trump and was briefly his national security advisor before resigning, has pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents.
In a startling breakthrough for prosecutors investigating potential collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump presidential campaign, former national security adviser Michael Flynn announced on Friday that he was cooperating with prosecutors and ready to testify about Russian contacts.
After months of silence and invisibility, Flynn walked into a federal courthouse in Washington DC on Friday morning and pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI. The plea was part of a larger deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, and strikes at the heart of the Trump White House.
As part of his plea deal, Flynn has agreed to be interviewed at any time by government agents and to submit to lie detector tests upon request. He faces a possible sentence of up to six months in prison in his guilty plea to the false statements charge.
Flynn falsely denied to investigators that he had asked Kislyak in a meeting during the presidential transition to refrain from escalating the situation after the United States imposed new sanctions on Russia, and falsely denied that he had asked the ambassador in a separate meeting to delay a vote on a UN resolution, according to court documents.
What should concern Trump and his associates has to be the fact that Flynn has pleaded guilty to only this charge. Lying to the FBI is the easiest thing to charge someone with and convict them for and even the most innocent of people can find themselves guilty of it, simply by making what they think is an innocuous statement that turns out to be not 100% accurate. This is because there are usually two FBI agents who interview people with one of them taking notes and these notes are considered by judges to be presumptively true records of the conversation. Experienced civil rights attorneys advise people to never talk to FBI agents unless they have their own lawyer present and they record the conversations as well.
So why would the FBI try to pin such a charge on innocent people? They will do this if they think that they can use it to pressure you to incriminate the person they are really interested in. By charging you with this crime, they can force you to cooperate with them in exchange for leniency. This is why Flynn’s guilty plea to just this charge should disturb Trump and those around him. It means that he has told Mueller’s team something of value in exchange.
Trump’s lawyer Ty Cobb tried to put a positive spin on the news.
Trump’s lead personal lawyer on the case, Ty Cobb, sought to distance the president from his former ally, a key adviser during the 2016 presidential election whose name Trump floated briefly as a possible vice-presidential pick.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr Flynn,” Cobb said in a statement, which stated that Flynn served in the Trump administration for only 25 days and called Flynn a “former Obama administration official”.
That is true but not the point. If Mueller asks the judge for a sentence other than the maximum, that would be even more troubling to the Trump team.