President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is set to plead guilty Friday morning to “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador, according to court filings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
A plea hearing has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
According to the special counsel, Flynn lied when he told investigators that he did not ask then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation” in response to sanctions that then-President Obama had levied on Russia. Flynn also lied, the counsel alleges, when he said he did not ask the ambassador to either delay or defeat an unrelated United Nations Security Council vote.
ADVERTISEMENTIt is almost certain that Flynn will plead guilty, legal analysts say, citing the wording of Mueller’s short two-page filing.
“The fact that its characterized as a ‘plea hearing’ makes it about as guaranteed as possible he’s pleading guilty,” said national security lawyer Brad Moss.
The plea deal is the latest indication that Flynn is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, following reports last week that Flynn’s legal team is no longer sharing information with Trump’s lawyers.
“Given the narrow scope of the indictment, I would put good money on it that this was the negotiated terms of the deal,” Moss said in an email to The Hill. “Mueller agreed to charge Flynn with a single felony in exchange for cooperation and material information (as well as not prosecuting him for other things).”
Flynn’s misrepresentation of his conversations with Kislyak — which took place in December, before Trump took office — were the justification for his ouster from the White House after just 24 days.
Reporting based on leaks of U.S. surveillance revealed in February that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence about the contents of the phone call, saying that sanctions were not mentioned — an account Pence then repeated to the American people.
At the time, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn created a “compromise situation” and could have been “blackmailed.”
“We weren’t the only ones that knew all of this,” Yates testified earlier this year, referring to the revelation that Flynn misled Pence about the true content of a December call with Kislyak. “The Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done. The Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others.”
Flynn was interviewed by the FBI in its investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election in January, when Mueller’s office now says he made false statements about the phone calls with Kislyak.
The White House fired Flynn 18 days after learning of his misrepresentation.
This story was updated at 10:14 a.m.