Will Michael Flynn Testify Against Trump? He's Reportedly Promised Mueller "Full Cooperation"
Former national security adviser retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has reportedly agreed to testify against Donald Trump. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russian ambassador on Friday and has reportedly agreed to cooperate fully with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. As part of that cooperation, Flynn has reportedly agreed to testify he was "directed him to make contact with the Russians" by transition officials for then-candidate Trump, ABC News' Brian Ross was among the first to report.
Update: ABC News corrected its report later on Friday, clarifying that Trump told Flynn to contact Russia as president-elect, not as candidate. Ross cited the anonymous source, saying: "He said the president had asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He's now clarifying that saying, according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him during the campaign to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other world hot spots. And then after the election, the president-elect asked him to contact Russia on issues including working together to fight ISIS."
Earlier: "He is prepared to testify, we are told by a confidant, against President Trump, against members of the Trump family, and others in the White House," Ross reported Friday just after news of Flynn's guilty plea broke. "He is prepared to testify that President Trump, as a candidate, directed him to make contact with the Russians." Such a testimony would likely contradict nearly everything Trump has said about the Russian investigation up to this point.
President Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion between Russia and his campaign. "There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians," Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt in May. Moreover, in February, Trump also denied being aware of any contact between Russia and anyone who advised his election campaign. "Nobody that I know of," the president said, according to the New York Times. "Nobody."
In a "Statement of the Offense" filed with a federal court Friday, however, it was noted that Flynn discussed "what, if anything, to communicate to the Russian ambassador about the U.S. sanctions" with "senior members of [Trump's] Presidential Transition Team at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida." The statement goes on to say Flynn routinely discussed his conversations with the Russian ambassador with members of Trump's Presidential Transition Team.
The "Statement of the Offense" also reported that on Dec. 22, 2016, "a very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team directed Flynn to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia."
Flynn was, according to the court document, tasked with influencing those officials to delay or defeat a resolution submitted to the U.N. regarding Israeli settlements. According to reports from both NBC News and the Associated Press, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is the "very senior member of the presidential transition team" referenced in the document.
Court documents note Flynn lied about his contact with the Russian ambassador when questioned by FBI investigators and had falsely stated he had not asked the ambassador to "refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions" from the United States.
In a statement released Friday shortly after putting in his plea, Flynn acknowledged his actions "were wrong" and said he was "working to set things right" through his faith in God.
"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country," Flynn said in the statement, per CNN. "I accept full responsibility for my actions."
President Trump has yet to comment on either Flynn's guilty plea or on reports the former national security adviser plans to testify against him. In a statement released Friday, however, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said there was nothing in Flynn's plea that "implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn," the Associated Press reported.
Although Flynn, who often spoke at Trump rallies, had reportedly made it on Trump's shortlist of potential vice presidential candidates, his stint as Trump's national security was short lived. The retired army lieutenant general was fired in February, after less than a month on the job, following revelations he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his dealings and communications with the Russian ambassador.