Editors’ note: This story was based on an ABC News report that has since been clarified. We have updated the story accordingly.
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was directed to contact the Russian ambassador by a “very senior member of the presidential transition team” before Donald Trump took office, prosecutors said Friday, via USA Today.
Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to making false statements about his Russian contacts to the FBI. As part of his guilty plea, Flynn will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties between Trump’s campaign and the country.
Trump previously has characterized the investigation into Flynn as a “witch hunt.”
The Associated Press reports that the former national security adviser admitted in his plea deal that a “senior member” of Trump’s transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.
Flynn spoke with the “senior official” of Trump’s transition team at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort on Dec. 29, 2016 about what he should communicate with a Russian ambassador. Trump was also at Mar-a-Lago on Dec. 29.
Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements about him not asking Russia’s former ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, to refrain from “escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia” on Dec. 29, 2016, and that he did not ask the ambassador to delay a vote on, or to defeat, a United Nations Security Council resolution, according to court documents.
In a statement, Flynn said that his plea reflects “a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country.”
Update 10:22am CT, Dec. 2: In its original report, ABC News’ Brian Ross reported that Trump told Flynn to contact the Russians before the election and that Flynn would testify against Trump in the Mueller investigation.
Later Friday, though, ABC corrected Ross’ reporting.
“A clarification on something one of Flynn’s confidants told us and we reported earlier today,” Ross said on ABC, via Ad Week. “He said the president asked Flynn to contact Russia during the campaign. He’s now clarifying that saying, according to Flynn, candidate Trump asked him, during the campaign, to find ways to repair relations with Russia and other hot spots. And then after the election the president-elect asked him—told him—to contact Russia on other issues including fighting ISIS.”