WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of making material false statements during an interview with the FBI on Jan. 24 as part of a plea deal with Special Council Robert Mueller.
During the proceeding, Flynn also admitted to asking former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak not to retaliate for sanctions imposed by then-President Barack Obama — all under orders, Flynn said, from a “senior official” on the Trump transition team.
Flynn entered the federal courtroom Friday morning surrounded by attorneys and family, wearing a light blue shirt, a grey suit, and a grim expression. His family took seats in the front row as Flynn and his lawyers took a table across from attorneys representing the government.
Flynn sat calmly, jaw tight, as a government lawyer read the case against him. Afterward, Flynn stood with his back stock-straight between two lawyers as Judge Rudolph Contreras, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, walked him through the implications of a guilty plea.
Asked by Contreras how he would plead, Flynn said simply, “Guilty, your honor.” As Flynn said the words, one of his attorneys patted him lightly on the back.
Flynn is cooperating with Mueller’s office as a condition of his plea deal. His bombshell admission that he coordinated his calls with Kislyak with a senior transition official raises the specter that Mueller could bring charges against other current or former administration officials.
Government attorneys filed a copy of the plea deal with the court, but they declined to summarize it in open court.
Flynn’s admission was part of a statement of facts read out in court before Flynn pleaded guilty. After a government attorney finished reading the statement, Contreras asked Flynn if anything in it was untrue.
“Nothing that I heard, your honor,” Flynn replied.
“Or that you read?” the judge asked, referring to a written copy of the same statement that Flynn signed.
“Or that I read,” Flynn affirmed.
The retired three-star general, who previously headed the Defense Intelligence Agency, faces a maximum fine of $250,000 and a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. The parties agreed to defer a sentencing investigation, and a status update has been scheduled for February 1.
Flynn did not stop to answer questions from reporters as he left the courtroom, but did issue a written statement to the press.
“After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts,” the statement read, according to CBS. “Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel’s office reflect a decision I made int he best interests of my family and our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”