Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn confirmed Friday that he is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about two conversations he had with the Russian ambassador in the weeks before President Trump took office.
Flynn’s guilty plea and his decision to cooperate is the most ominous development yet in an investigation that the president has repeatedly sought to shut down and which continues to cast a cloud over his administration.
In addition, the details of Flynn’s guilty plea raise new questions about how much others in the White House — including possibly President Trump himself — knew about the retired general’s conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the United States, during the presidential transition.
In a statement read in federal court, Brandon L. Van Grack, an assistant prosecutor on Mueller’s staff, said that in the case of the two conversations at issue, Flynn spoke to Kislyak only after receiving specific instructions from, in one instance, a “senior official” of Trump’s transition team and, in another instance, a “very senior member” of the transition team. Neither official was named. But it has been publicly reported that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a key adviser, was recently questioned by Mueller’s prosecutors and CNN reported Friday that he was the “very senior” transition official in question.
The two conversations detailed in court today may not be the only contact with Kislyak that Flynn might be prepared to divulge to Mueller. “He talked to Kislyak a lot,” said a friend of Flynn’s who was in frequent contact with him during the presidential transition. “He would tell me, ‘We’re going to have to work with the Russians,’” principally about attempting to forge a united front with Vladimir Putin’s government against the Islamic State. (ABC News quoted a Flynn confidant as saying Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians to cooperate on fighting the Islamic State in Syria.)
Flynn’s lawyers released a statement by him after his…