Michael Flynn, the former national-security adviser, has been charged by the FBI with making false statements about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a possible indication that he is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian electoral interference.
Mueller’s office announced Friday morning that Flynn had misled investigators about these conversations in two ways. First, he told the FBI that he did not ask Kislyak in December 2016 “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day,” and that he did not urge the Russian ambassador to delay a vote on a pending United Nations Security Council resolution.
Flynn is expected to appear at a plea hearing at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday. A guilty plea would add further fuel to the growing speculation that Flynn may be cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation into Russian electoral meddling. Flynn’s lawyers cut off communications with Trump’s lawyers earlier this month, a move that could suggest he’s begun to exchange information with Mueller’s team. In March, Flynn’s lawyer asked for immunity from prosecution in exchange for his client’s testimony, cryptically saying his client “certainly has a story to tell.” Trump, for his part, publicly encouraged him to do so at the time.
His legal issues may also extend beyond the question of Russian interference. Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings suggested in May that Flynn may have broken federal law by not disclosing his payments from Russia Today during a standard background check in 2016. Flynn is also under scrutiny for lobbying work he did on behalf of a Turkish businessman while also advising the Trump campaign.
The Flynn charges are the latest political blow to Trump from the Russia investigation. Mueller’s team charged three other Trump-campaign officials earlier this fall, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and publicly described the congressional and Justice Department inquiries as a “witch hunt.”
This story will be updated.