Flynn pleads guilty to lying on Rus­sia, co­op­er­ates with US probe

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Former na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on Fri­day to lying to the FBI about his con­tacts with Rus­sia, and he agreed to co­op­er­ate with pros­e­cu­tors delv­ing into the ac­tions of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's in­ner cir­cle be­fore he took of­fice.

The dra­matic turn of events also raised new ques­tions about whether Trump's son- in- law, Jared Kush­ner, had a role in those Rus­sia con­tacts.

Flynn was the first mem­ber of Trump's ad­min­is­tra­tion to plead guilty to a crime un­cov­ered by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller's wide-rang­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian at­tempts to in­flu­ence the 2016 US elec­tion and po­ten­tial col­lu­sion by Trump aides.

Un­der a plea bar­gain deal, Flynn ad­mit­ted in a Wash­ing­ton court that he lied when asked by FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors about his con­ver­sa­tions last De­cem­ber with Rus­sia's then-am­bas­sador, Sergei Kislyak, just weeks be­fore Trump took of­fice. Pros­e­cu­tors said the two men dis­cussed US sanc­tions against Rus­sia and that Flynn also asked Kislyak to help de­lay a UN vote seen as dam­ag­ing to Is­rael.

They also said a “very se­nior mem­ber” of Trump's tran­si­tion team had told Flynn to con­tact Rus­sia and other for­eign gov­ern­ments to try to in­flu­ence them ahead of the UN vote. Sources told Reuters that the “very se­nior” of­fi­cial was Kush­ner, a key mem­ber of Trump's tran­si­tion team and now the pres­i­dent's se­nior ad­viser.

Flynn's de­ci­sion to co­op­er­ate with Mueller's team marked a ma­jor es­ca­la­tion in a probe that has dogged the pres­i­dent since he took of­fice in Jan­uary.

There was noth­ing in the court hear­ing that pointed to any ev­i­dence against Trump, and the White House said Flynn's guilty plea im­pli­cated him alone.

Flynn, a re­tired army lieu­tenant gen­eral, only served as Trump's na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser for 24 days. He was forced to re­sign after he was found to have mis­led Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence about his dis­cus­sions with Kislyak. But Flynn had been an en­thu­si­as­tic sup­porter of Trump's elec­tion cam­paign and the pres­i­dent con­tin­ued to praise him even after he left the ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing Flynn had been treated “very, very un­fairly” by the news me­dia.

A small group of pro­test­ers yelled “Lock him up!” as Flynn left the court­house on Fri­day, echo­ing the “Lock her up!” chant that Flynn him­self led against Trump's Demo­cratic ri­val, Hil­lary Clin­ton, in vit­ri­olic ap­pear­ances on the cam­paign trail.

Michael Flynn de­parts US District Court, in Wash­ing­ton, US, De­cem­ber 1, 2017. Reuters/ Jonathan Ernst

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.