Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn arrives at his guilty plea hearing before the Prettyman Federal Court in Washington, DC Special Counsel Robert Mueller accused Flynn of a charge of making false statements to the FBI.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at his hearing in Prettyman Federal Court in Washington, DC Special lawyer Robert Mueller accused Flynn of making a false statement to the FBI.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
If the story of Michael Flynn seems to have been pending President Trump since the day of the inauguration, it is because.
The story of how Trump's first national security adviser pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators and cooperating in Russia's special attorney's investigation extends two presidential terms and also touches government officials who subsequently were dismissed by Trump.
Here are 10 key events that explain why Flynn was legally vulnerable in the special lawyer Robert Mueller's investigation and why his plea agreement addresses one of the central issues in Russia's general mess.
1. President Obama sanctions Russia
On December 28, 2016, then President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States and introduced new sanctions against several Russian security services and individuals.
The measure is retribution for interference by Russia in the 2016 elections, detailed in the unclbadified summary of a report highly ranked by the intelligence community at the beginning of the new year.
2. Flynn confers with transitional officials and negotiates sanctions with Russia
On December 29, Flynn speaks with the Russian ambbadador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, as well as a "senior official "of the presidential transition team, according to court documents in the Flynn case.
The documents describe how Flynn spoke to his colleague in the waiting administration – identified by some means as former deputy national security adviser KT McFarland: on what to tell the Russian ambbadador about sanctions. Then he talked to Kislyak on the phone.
"Flynn called the Russian ambbadador and asked Russia not to intensify the situation and only respond to the United States sanctions reciprocally," the court documents say. The Trump camp wants to offer Moscow the possibility of a better relationship once Trump is inaugurated.
On December 31, Kislyak calls Flynn and says that Russia will not climb, as he asked. Russian President Vladimir Putin confirms that with a public announcement, Trump cheers on Twitter .
Great movement in the delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!
– Donald J. Trump (@ realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2016
3. Pence denies that Flynn spoke of sanctions
After the Washington Post report alludes to Flynn's conversation, the waiting administration begins to deny that they have discussed the sanctions. Not only are there suspicions about the issue itself, the question arises whether Flynn could have violated a dark law that prohibits non-government Americans from negotiating on behalf of the United States.
So on January 15, then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence presents a case to Face the Nation on CBS.
"What I can confirm is that I talked to him about it, it's that those conversations that happened around the time the United States took measures to expel the diplomats had nothing to do with those sanctions," Pence said.
But the FBI, which was monitoring Kislyak's communications, knew it was not so.
4. FBI investigators interview Flynn
On January 24, Flynn gives a voluntary interview to FBI investigators who observe Russian interference.
In this interview, according to the indictment documents, Flynn makes false statements about whether he asked Kislyak to refrain from "escalating the situation." He also says he does not remember the follow-up conversation in which Kislyak confirms Russia's decision on an escalation of sanctions.
Mueller's team also now says that Flynn made false statements in the interview about calls he made regarding a United Nations Security Council resolution.
5. Sally Yates warns the White House about Flynn
On January 26, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates meets with White House attorney Don McGahn to warn her that the Department of Justice had evidence, through FBI surveillance, of what Pence was saying publicly was inaccurate.
"We told him that we felt like the vice president and that others had the right to know that the information they were transmitting to the American people was not true," Yates said in testimony before a panel of the Judicial Senate in May.
She adds that because Russian diplomatic and intelligence officials also knew about the content of the talks, and probably had their own proof of them, Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail.
Yates and McGahn meet again on January 27 and begin discussing the ways in which White House officials could review the evidence the FBI has information about Flynn.
But Trump dismissed Yates three days later, after announcing that he would not defend his travel restrictions to refugees and visa holders. seven countries with a Muslim majority.
The White House also says that McGahn told Trump about I heard Yates's warning that Flynn had lied to Pence, and probably gave the same account to the FBI.
6. Trump asks Comey for "loyalty"
On January 27, President Trump organizes a dinner with the then director of the FBI James Comey, where, according to the testimony of Comey in front of to the Senate Intelligence Committee, the president says: I need loyalty, I hope loyalty. "
It was uncomfortable, said Comey.
" I did not move, I did not speak, I did not change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that continued, "said Comey." We just looked at each other in silence. The conversation continued, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. "
Comey said he felt dinner was an effort by the president to ask him to apply for his job and" create some sort of patronage relationship. " The Comey James Saga, In Timeline Form “/>
7. Flynn is fired …
On February 13, Trump dismisses Flynn, after leaks reveal that Flynn actually spoke about the sanctions with the Russian ambbadador Flynn continues to deny the accusations, as close as four days before being fired.
8. … and Trump wonders out loud if Comey can let Flynn go  On February 14, Comey goes to the Oval Office for a counterterrorism meeting, and Trump asks him to stay for a face-to-face meeting later.
"When the door was closed next to Grandfather's clock, and we were alone, the president began by saying: & quot; Quier or talk about Mike Flynn, "Comey testified in June. "Then he said:" I hope you can see your way clear to let this happen, to let Flynn go in. He's a nice guy, I hope you can leave this. "
Comey accepts that Flynn He is a "nice guy", but he says he would not let him go.
9. Trump shoots Comey
On May 9, Trump fired Comey, saying in an interview two days later that the FBI director was a "showboat" and a "spectator" .
Trump also mentions the FBI's investigation in Russia, to which Comey was driving – "this from Russia," as Trump calls it.
The discussion in Washington widens from the possible collusion between the Trump camp and the Russian attack in the election to the question of obstruction of justice. Did the president try to get rid of the FBI director to prevent him from discovering something that Trump wanted to keep hidden? Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein responds by appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special advisor on the case.
10. Flynn pleads guilty, agrees to cooperate
On November 30, Flynn signs a plea agreement with Mueller in which he admits he lied to the FBI about his conversation about sanctions. On December 1, Flynn appears in court and his deal is made public.
The agreement gives Mueller a witness who spent almost the entire campaign of 2016 and the presidential transition in Trump, who was involved in many conversations with foreigners, including the main Russians. Flynn's cooperation restores the clock in Russia's mess as it begins to inform Mueller and his team.