President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in an effort to cover up his contact with Russian officials, according to a statement released Monday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The guilty plea was made during the special counsel’s first day on the job, which Mueller was appointed to oversee after the firing of FBI Director James Comey in May.
Flynn’s guilty plea came after the former national-security adviser pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying under oath to the Senate about the nature of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which he said were not about the Trump campaign.
The statement by Mueller said Flynn lied to the special prosecutor about the conversations.
In a separate statement released in May, Mueller said his office was seeking a criminal referral from the Justice Department, in part because Flynn had lied to his former colleagues about his contacts with the Russian government, and because of Flynn’s “unconscionable conduct” with the FBI.
“The Department of Justice will seek to have the guilty plea dismissed in exchange for dismissal of the charges that Flynn lied under oath about his conversations, and to have Flynn’s cooperation with the Special Counsel’s Office be withdrawn, subject to an agreement to refrain from any further contacts with Flynn,” Mueller’s statement said.
In addition to Flynn’s guilty pleas, Mueller’s office announced a second, separate criminal referral, this time to a former senior member of the Trump transition team.
The referral said that a former transition official had contact with the Russians in 2016, and that Trump himself “appeared to accept” that, the statement said, and had sought “to use his influence to help the transition team” reach a deal with the Kremlin.
It is not yet clear whether Mueller will seek a plea deal for Flynn, or if he will seek an indictment against the former transition team member.