Saturday 15 December 2018

Flynn 'to testify against Trump' over Russia links

WASHINGTON, December 2, 2017

President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December, becoming the first senior White House official to cut a co-operation deal in the special counsel’s wide-ranging inquiry into election interference.
Flynn’s discussions with Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, were part of a coordinated effort by Trump’s aides to create foreign policy before they were in power, documents released as part of Flynn’s plea agreement show, reported the New York Times.
Their efforts undermined the existing policy of President Barack Obama and flouted a warning from a senior Obama administration official to stop meddling in foreign affairs before the inauguration.
The documents do not disclose what Trump knew about Flynn’s discussions. But in at least one instance, prosecutors say, Flynn was directed by a “very senior member” of the presidential transition team to discuss a United Nations resolution. 
Trump’s lawyers believe that unnamed aide was Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, according to a lawyer briefed on the matter.
The transition team was led by Vice President Mike Pence. Its top members included Kushner; Reince Priebus,  Trump’s first chief of staff; and KT. McFarland, who was Flynn’s deputy and was later appointed to be the ambassador to Singapore.
Flynn spoke to McFarland about another of his conversations with Kislyak, according to the lawyer.
Flynn’s decision to plead guilty to lying to investigators about those conversations marked a significant new phase in the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and a politically treacherous development for the president and his closest aides, whose activities in the West Wing are being scrutinized by FBI agents, lawmakers, federal prosecutors and the media.
He is prepared to say that Donald Trump "directed him to make contact with the Russians”, according to a bombshell report by ABC News.
The claim sent the US stock market tumbling and brought the Russian election scandal a step closer to the Oval Office in a dramatic day in Washington.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was also named in US media reports as another figure who asked Flynn to reach out to officials from Russia, among other countries. 
The White House fought back on Friday night, labelling Flynn a “former Obama administration official” who spent just 25 days in the Trump administration.
The row overshadowed news that Trump has enough Senate votes to pass major tax cuts in what would be his biggest legislative victory.
Allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government - blamed for hacking Democratic Party emails during the campaign - to win the election have dogged his first year in office. 
Flynn is the first White House official to be charged as part of an investigation into Russian election meddling led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Three other Trump campaign figures – Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and George Papadopoulos – were charged in October. 

Tags: Trump | Flynn | Russia links |


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