The Russian Connection: Flynn Admits He Lied

Late last night, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump had approached senior Republican senators over the summer asking them to end the investigation of his campaign’s connection to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

President Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides. Mr. Trump’s requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides.

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, the intelligence committee chairman, said in an interview this week that Mr. Trump told him that he was eager to see an investigation that has overshadowed much of the first year of his presidency come to an end.

Then this morning the news broke that former White House National Security advisor General Michael T. Flynn was entering a guilty plea to a single count of lying to the FBI and would cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and court records indicate he was acting under instructions from senior Trump transition officials in his dealings with the diplomat.

Flynn’s admission to the charge Friday in federal district court in the District could be an ominous sign for the White House, as Flynn is cooperating in the ongoing probe of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election. His plea revealed that he was in touch with senior Trump transition officials before and after his communications with Kislyak — rebutting the idea that he was a rogue operator. [..]

Flynn admitted in his plea that he lied to the FBI about several December conversations with Kislyak. In one, on Dec. 22, he contacted the Russian ambassador about the incoming administration’s opposition to a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal and requested that Russia vote against or delay it, court records say. The ambassador later called back and indicated Russia would not vote against it, the records say.

In another conversation, on Dec. 29, Flynn called the ambassador to ask Russia not escalate an ongoing feud over sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, court records say. The ambassador later called back and said Russia had chosen not to retaliate, the records say.

Flynn admitted as a part of his plea that when the FBI asked him about his dealings with the Russians on Jan. 24 — four days after Donald Trump was inaugurated — he did not truthfully describe the interactions. But perhaps more interestingly, he said others in the transition knew what he was up to.

According to an ABC News report, Flynn is prepared to testify that it was Trump who tols him to contact the Russians during thecampaign.

Prosecutors have said that they will decide how effectively Flynn is cooperating as part of a plea agreement. Lying to the FBI carries a sentence of up to five years. It will be interesting to see what kind of sentence he gets, and he will get one.

Flynn could also be charged under the rarely used Logan Act that bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country. Under the deal, Flynn’s son, Michael G., will not be charged at this time. It will be interesting to find out who are the two transition officials who gave Flynn his marching orders and who else will be implicated.

Some of us are smiling inside right now over the irony of this. The man who said that if he did a tenth of the things Hillary Clinton had done he’d be in jail, and who loudly led the crowds chanting “lock her up,” is the one facing jail time.