Former President Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russia's ambbadador to the United States.
Flynn, a former defense officer of the Obama era who became a substitute for the Trump campaign, is now cooperating with the investigation of special lawyer Robert Mueller on whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Their agreement came a month after Mueller revealed charges against former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Robert Gates and revealed that George Papadopoulos, a low-level campaign adviser, had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI agents.
Here are the five main points of Flynn's guilty plea.
Russia's investigation approaches the White House
Flynn is the first member of the Trump administration involved in the special investigative lawyer.
He served as national security adviser for 24 days before being forced to resign after reports surfaced that he had discussed sanctions with Russian Ambbadador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period, despite telling Vice President Pence that no .
Flynn played a prominent role in Trump's campaign as a foreign policy and substitute advisor, delivering a memorable speech at the Republican National Convention during which he chanted a "shut up" song on Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton appeals to the rules of the court against the publication of Whitewater's accusations against Clinton Dems re-emerge Flynn's comments on "blocking" After Mueller accuses Kaine: Flynn will have a "fair legal process" he tried to deny Clinton MORE .
According to documents filed with the court, Flynn, while a national security adviser, lied to FBI agents when he told them that he had not told Kislyak in December 2016 to "refrain from escalating the situation" in response to the sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Moscow on the same day. . He also lied when he said he did not ask Kislyak to delay or defeat a vote on a pending resolution by the UN Security Council, the documents said.
Events make it difficult for the White House to claim that Mueller's findings are not related to the campaign or administration.
"It's a nightmare for Donald Trump Donald John TrumpDems re-emerges Flynn's comments of 'locking her up' after Mueller accuses Congress of preventing private prisons from receiving tax exemptions. The evangelicals were with Trump in 2016, and they will be in 2020 MORE "Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Fox News.
Still, legal experts warn that it is too early to badess Flynn's value for Mueller's investigation, or what he might have about the White House. 19659002] "People are overcoming their skies by baduming that this plea agreement represents an existential threat to the Trump administration," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.
But Turley, Hill's collaborator, added, "It could pose a threat to other people like Jared Kushner," Trump's son-in-law and principal advisor, who is said to have met with Kislyak and Flynn in December.
Trump's transition officers directed Flynn's contacts in Russia
According to court documents, Flynn and an experienced member of Trump's transition team discussed whether he should address the issue of sanctions with Kislyak during December 29. conversation.
Flynn is said to have contacted the official, who was with other transitional members at Trump's Mar-a-Lago complex in Palm Beach, on December 29 to discuss what to tell Kislyak about US sanctions. UU In Moscow.
The two discussed sanctions, "including the potential impact of those sanctions on the foreign policy objectives of the incoming administration," and agreed that the transition team "did not want Russia to escalate the situation," according to the documents.
A joint report of December 29 indicates that current administration officials Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway and K.T. McFarland, as well as former White House aides Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, were all with Trump in Mar-a-Lago the day Flynn made the call.
The statements show that several members of Trump's transition team knew that Flynn discussed the sanctions with Kislyak after the telephone conversation.
Prosecutors also say that an experienced member of the transition team on December 22 asked Flynn to contact officials of Russia and other governments about their position on the UN resolution "and to influence those governments to delay the vote or cancel the resolution ".
Several reports have identified the current White House official, Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, as that officer. The special lawyer's office declined to comment.
The revelations have opened speculation about the identity of the officials who knew and directed Flynn's contacts in Russia.
Flynn seems to be doing good business
Speculation has been shaken for months Flynn would be charged in Mueller's investigation.
It has faced scrutiny because it has not divulged the income of entities linked to Russia and Turkey, which are potential violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
Flynn's consulting firm received $ 530,000 during the campaign for work that may have helped the Turkish government.
It was also reported that he was under investigation for a plan that would have led to the forced extradition of a Muslim cleric considered an enemy of the Turkish government in exchange for millions of dollars, according to multiple points of sale.
On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI, which carries a maximum of five years in prison. According to the plea agreement Mueller negotiated with Flynn, he will face a maximum of six months in prison and a $ 9,500 fine.
Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, described the charges against Flynn as "loving treatment."
"I think there were many other potential charges to level against Flynn," said Vladeck.
In addition to protecting himself from further charges, Flynn is said to be cooperating with the investigation to protect his son from possible criminal prosecution.
"My plea agreement and my agreement to cooperate with the Office of the Special Counsel reflect a decision I made in the best interest of my family and our country," Flynn said in a statement.
Could have extremely valuable information
The favorable nature of Flynn's guilty plea has led some to speculate on the potential value of the information he has, through his lawyers, offered to Mueller .
"This is a good enough agreement that one has to wonder what Flynn brought to the table," Turley said. "That's what would worry me if I was in Trump's legal team, it's that this deal is too good as a mere maintenance process for the prosecution."
Flynn's closeness to Trump during the campaign and the transition, as well as in the early days of the administration, raised questions about what he might know about the president and his inner circle.
ABC News already reports that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to contact the Russians during the campaign.  "The question everyone should ask is not what Flynn has but who he is against," Vladeck observed. "With an accusation already pending against Manafort, who else would be worth it if Mueller begged Flynn for dirt?"
"We do not know what Flynn knows, but if you only think logically of Mueller's perspective that it would be higher in the food chain, the list after Flynn is much shorter than the list after Manafort," he continued.
There are no signs of completion of Mueller's research
Mueller has a broad mandate to investigate any potential criminal activity that arises from his investigation into the potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
Friday's events indicate that his research is progressing methodically, and that it may be a long way from reaching his conclusion.
According to reports, Mueller's team began interviewing current and former White House officials, including Priebus, the former chief of staff, and communications director Hope Hicks.
Ron Hosko, a former FBI official who served under Mueller, speculated that Friday's events indicate that Mueller has more work to do.
"I think Mueller is harvesting today, and I'm not underestimating what they're doing, I think they're harvesting the cheapest fruit," Hosko said. "That is the starting point for an investigation."