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C-Span “Staking Out Flynn”: https://www.c-span.org/video/?438009-1/michael-flynn-pleads-guilty-making-false-statement-fbi

From VOA News:
Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI, December 01, 2017, Last Updated: December 02, 2017 1:50 AM, Masood Farivar and Wayne Lee
U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal agents and has agreed to cooperate with investigators examining allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Appearing before a federal judge in a packed courtroom in Washington, Flynn, a 59-year-old retired army general who resigned after just a few weeks at Trump’s side in the White House, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a series of private conversations he had with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington, Sergey Kislyak, shortly after the presidential election.

The charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, but under U.S. sentencing guidelines the average sentence ranges from zero to six months.

The guidelines are advisory, but prosecutors said they’ll ask for a reduced sentence if Flynn provides “substantial assistance” with the investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller. No sentencing date was announced.

Guilty plea

As part of his guilty plea, Flynn agreed to “cooperate fully” with Mueller’s team of investigators, answering questions, providing written statements, taking polygraph exams, and “participating in covert law enforcement activities.” In return, Mueller’s office agreed that Flynn “will not be further prosecuted criminally.”

Flynn is the fourth member of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to be charged by Mueller’s team and the first former White House to plead guilty in connection with the Russia investigation.

On October 30, Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, another senior campaign official, were charged in a 12-count indictment unrelated to the Russia investigation.

Another Trump campaign surrogate, George Papadopoulos, secretly pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government and is cooperating with the special counsel.

Flynn’s decision to cooperate with a probe that could implicate others close to Trump marks a dramatic turnaround for a man who staunchly campaigned for the real estate mogul and promised a hard edge in U.S. foreign policy before being fired for lying about his Kislyak interactions to Vice President Mike Pence.

Flynn didn’t know at the time, but his phone conversations with Kislyak were all recorded by the FBI as part of its probe into Russian interference.

White House reaction

The White House sought to play down the significance of Flynn’s guilty plea.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb said Flynn’s plea does not implicate “anyone other than Mr. Flynn” and added Flynn was a “former Obama administration official” who served in the Trump White House for only 25 days.

But some legal experts said the relatively minor charge of lying to the FBI suggests Mueller sees value in Flynn’s cooperation.

“The trick is we won’t know, perhaps for some time, how significant it is,” said Steve Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas who closely follows the Russia investigation. “But it’s a strong sign that more is coming. And what’s coming down the pipe probably involves more senior officials and individuals closer to President Trump himself.”

In a statement released after his court appearance Friday, Flynn said, “The actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”

Flynn was swept up in the Russia probe as the FBI began examining contacts between Russia and Trump campaign officials.

Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about a series of conversations he had with the Russian ambassador at the behest of senior Trump transition officials shortly after the election.

The conversations focused on two foreign policy issues the Trump transition team sought to influence before coming into office: a pending U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel for its settlement activities in Palestinian territories and a possible Russian retaliation to sanctions imposed by then-President Barack Obama.

In two separate conversations — Dec. 22 and 23, 2016 — Flynn, directed by a “very senior” member of the Trump transition team, called Kislyak to urge him that Russia “vote against or delay” the Security Council resolution. Kisliyak later called back to say Russia would not vote against the resolution. [The updated version of the VOA article says “Kislyak told him that Russia would not vote against the resolution, which was eventually passed.”]

‘Very senior’ member of transition team

Several U.S. news outlets have identified the “very senior” member of the transition team as Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser who is leading the White House’s Israeli Palestinian peace efforts.

Five days later, on December 28, after Obama announced punitive sanctions against Russia over its interference in the election, Kislyak called Flynn, according to prosecutors.

Flynn then contacted an unnamed “senior official” of the transition team at the Mar-a-Lago resort for guidance. The next day, Flynn called Kislyak to ask him to “refrain from escalating the situation” in response to the sanctions.

[Blog note: An updated version of the above paragraph by VOA says: “The next day, Dec. 29, Flynn contacted an unnamed senior transition official who was at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort to discuss what to tell Kislyak about the sanctions. The two discussed the impact of sanctions on Trump’s foreign policy. Immediately after the conversation, Flynn called Kislyak and urged him to “refrain from escalating the situation.” Another paragraph was added, saying: “On Dec. 31, the day after Putin announced that Russia would not retaliate to the U.S. sanctions, Kislyak called Flynn to say that “Russia had chosen not to retaliate” in response to Flynn’s request.” ]

When confronted by the FBI just days after Trump’s inauguration, Flynn, then the president’s national security adviser, “did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations” to investigators about the conversation with Kislyak, according to court documents filed Friday. [Updated version: “When confronted by the FBI four days after Trump’s inauguration, Flynn, then the president’s national security adviser, denied everything, according to court documents filed on Friday“.]

The filing also says Flynn falsely stated he did not remember Kislyak informing him the Kremlin had decided to “moderate its response to those sanctions” in response to Flynn’s request.

The court document says Flynn also falsely claimed the Russian ambassador never described Moscow’s response to that request.

Flynn’s attorneys recently informed Trump’s legal team they had to end discussions about the special counsel’s probe, an indication Flynn had started to cooperate with prosecutors.https://www.voanews.com/a/flynn-to-attend-plea-hearing-/4145091.html (Emphasis our own, here and throughout.)

US District Court document detailing plea agreement made with former national security adviser Mike Flynn, Dec. 1, 2017. https://docs.voanews.eu/en-US/2017/12/01/8e71a54f-4371-4a48-9592-69b1c884d84e.pdf

Statement of Offense: https://www.justice.gov/file/1015126/download

About the UN resolution: https://www.un.org/press/en/2016/sc12657.doc.htm

The Israeli settlement issue is especially interesting, considering that Trump and Jared Kushner have been friends for decades with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, as was Trump’s father and Kushner’s parents. Netanyahu is very pro-settlement, as are Trump mega-donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who also support Netanyahu. Trump and Kushner have both given big to Jewish groups which directly or indirectly support Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Furthermore, constructing Jewish housing, and more, on Palestinian land could be a real estate and/or hotel-casino bonanza for the Trumps, Kushners, Cordishes, and Adelsons. Both the construction and casinos could act as covers for money-laundering, including for some Russian oligarchs-mafia members.