After the others filed out, Trump made an insistent plea to Comey - who, it turns out, kept careful memos of this and other interactions he had with the president - to take it easy on General Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser who'd been fired the previous day. The statement is the first indication that Flynn is cooperating with the special counsel's office.
Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn has said a senior member of the president's transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.
He added that his actions "were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right".
The charge against Flynn is the first in Mueller's probe that has reached someone in the Trump White House and is the latest sign that the special counsel's investigation is intensifying, CNN reported.
The court filings from Flynn's plea hearing Friday say a "very senior member" of Trump's transition team asked Flynn to contact officials from UN Security Council countries, including Russian Federation, to learn where each country stood on the vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity.
Lefcourt, a past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said it signals that Mueller believes information from Flynn will be used to successfully prosecute other Trump associates.
"Flynn is accused of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about asking the ambassador in late December to "refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed on Russian Federation that same day". He also receives a speaking fee from a Russian government-run television network that USA officials consider a propaganda outlet.
A December 29 call between Flynn and Trump advisers discussed the potential impact on the "incoming administration's foreign policy goals", according to a court filing Friday.More news: Biodiesel Industry Disappointed With RFS Volumes Set by EPA
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The topics Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about included Russia's reaction to USA sanctions and Russia's vote on a UN Security Council resolution about Israeli settlements.
In a striking rupture with past practice, the Obama administration refrained from vetoing the condemnation, opting instead to abstain.
In the Security Council case, Flynn was told by "a very senior member" of the transition team to press Russian Federation to stall or block the vote, the court documents show.
Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to investigators about these conversations he had with then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in December 2016.
Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee earlier this year that she had warned the White House about Flynn's conversations with Kislyak so that the Trump administration "could take action" amid concerns that Flynn was subject to blackmail by Russians.
"The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year", Cobb said in a statement released to reporters.
Since the first allegations of Russian interference previous year, Trump has dismissed it as "fake news" and an excuse for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's stunning loss in the election. When asked how he pleaded, Flynn only said, "Guilty, your honor".
Mueller's charging documents state bluntly that Flynn interfered with the FBI's inquiry into Trump-Russia collusion.