Michael Flynn, then National Security Advisor, looks on as Donald Trump speaks (File)
Special Counsel Robert Muller, overseeing the Trump-Russia investigation, releases an FBI document detailing how Michael Flynn — senior Trump campaign advisor and then National Security Advisor — lied to federal investigators about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Prosecutors filed the document on the eve of Flynn’s sentencing for lying to FBI agents. Although the offense is a felony, the former general faces only a maximum of six months in prison, because of his cooperation through 19 interviews with Muellers’ team.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the Federal District Court in Washington, before handing down the sentence, ordered prosecutors to file a redacted version of the interview on January 24, 2017, four days after Flynn took office as National Security Advisor.
Flynn pleaded guilty to misleading investigators about five conversations with Kislyak in December 2016. The Trump advisor reportedly discussed the lifting of sanctions just imposed by President Barack Obama on Moscow, including over its interference in the 2016 US Presidential election.
Flynn, who was dismissed in 2014 as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has admitted that he requested that Russia not escalate tensions between the two countries. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not retaliate over the Obama sanctions, a decision praised in Trump.
Friends of Flynn say that he was in contact with Kislyak before the November election and the Trump transition. Details of those conversations, if they occurred, have not been set out.
Flynn claimed in the January 2017 interview that he did not remember asking Kislyak that Russia limit its response. He told investigators that he did not know about the Obama Administration’s decision to expel dozens of Russian diplomats and to seize two Russian-owned properties in the US.
The advisor also acknowledged lying about Russia’s impending vote in the UN on an Egyptian-sponsored resolution to condemn Israeli settlements in the West Bank. He said he only inquired about Russia’s views, but later admitted that he had Kislyak for a Russian delay of the resolution or opposition to it.
Flynn’s lawyers have criticized FBI agents for failing to warn him in advance that lying to them was a crime. The line has been eagerly spread by Trump supporters trying to tarnish the Trump-Russia investigation for entrapping the advisor.
But Mueller’s team said that Flynn, as a high-ranking official, knew that it is a felony offense to lie to investigators.
Flynn’s Associates Indicted Over Turkish Plot for Gulen Extradition
On Monday federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging two Flynn business associates with acting as agents of the Turkish Government.
The indictment described how Flynn and his associates sought to persuade the US to expel cleric Fethullah Gulen, sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Throughout autumn 2016, while Flynn was advising the Trump campaign, he and business partner Bijan Kian were paid $600,000 by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman with close ties to the Erdoğan Government.
Erdoğan was a long-time ally of Gulen, but the two split in 2013. Turkish authorities blame the cleric, who lives in Pennsylvania, for orchestrating a coup attempt in July 2016.
On the eve of the US election, Flynn wrote an opinion piece pushing for Gulen’s expulsion.
The extent of Flynn’s cooperation with prosecutors is indicated by his escape from the charges against Kian and Alptekin. Last year Flynn admitted to lying about his consulting firm’s business with the Turkish Government.