[Above]  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.

US vs Michael T. Flynn by Syndicated News SNN.BZ on Scribd

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 on December 29, 2016 “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day.”

That conversation took place on the same day that the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

From left, U.S. Army Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and his wife, Lori, pose for a photo with Deanie Dempsey and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak

 
U.S. intelligence officials reportedly overheard the conversation as part of their regular surveillance of Kislyak. When reports of the conversation became public in January, Vice President Mike Pence and then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus publicly defended Flynn and denied any wrongdoing. Trump fired Flynn on February 14 for lying to both men about the nature of his conversation with Kislyak.

Friday’s filing also said Flynn misled FBI investigators about his efforts to persuade the Russian ambassador on December 22, 2016, to delay a vote on a then-pending United Nations Security Council resolution about Israeli settlements.

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.”

 

 

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