Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is reportedly prepared to testify against the US president as part of an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election.
The reports sent the US stock market plunging with the dollar diving 0.5 per cent against a basket of the leading global currencies.
Flynn is prepared to testify that President Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russians when he was a presidential candidate, ABC News reported.
Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law, was also named in US media reports as another figure who asked Flynn to reach out to officials from Russia, among other countries.
The former adviser admitted lying to the FBI over his links to Russia today and has agreed to share information about a “very senior” official as part of a plea deal.
Flynn has also said that a senior member of Mr Trump’s transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.
The unnamed senior transition official at Mar- a-Lago directed Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Flynn reported back to the official, a US court has heard.
Flynn is the first official from the Trump administration to make a guilty plea in a wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The White House struggled to limit the fallout from Flynn’s bombshell guilty plea today, playing down his close ties to the President and claiming he has not implicated anyone else.
Describing Mr Trump’s disgraced former national security advisor as someone who was only at the White House for “25 days”, White House lawyer Ty Cobb painted Flynn’s admission that he lied about Russia contacts as a vindication for the White House.
Flynn pleaded guilty to the FBI’s charges that he did “willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements”.
The statements were said to have taken place on January 24, when the FBI put to him that he had asked the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the US imposed on Russia that day” on December 29.
Flynn was also accused of telling the FBI he did not recall Mr Kislyak subsequently telling him that Russia had chosen to moderate its response following Mr Flynn’s request.
Flynn was also accused of lying to the FBI on a separate occasion on Dec 22. He was said to have stated that he did not ask Mr Kislyak to “delay the vote on or defeat” a UN Security Council resolution.
Mr Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were charged last month and pleaded not guilty.
Mr Trump’s former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has already pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government.
Jared Kushner ‘directed Flynn to contact Russians’
Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law, is reportedly the senior official who directed Flynn to contact Russian officials, NBC News reported, citing two sources.
Flynn’s son: Family is the most important thing
Mr Mueller had placed intense pressure on Flynn, threatening to bring legal proceedings against his son, Michael Flynn Jr, unless he agreed to “flip” and tell everything he knew to the investigation.
It was probably no coincidence that he then went straight to his son’s house. Michael Flynn Jr, holding Flynn’s grandson, opened the door and Flynn touched the baby on the head.
Who is Michael Flynn?
Profile | General Michael Flynn
Senator: ‘This is a story you can’t make up’
More from Senator Mark Warren, the Senate intelligence committee’s top Democrat, who is bemused by today’s news.
The Democratic senator for Virginia questioned Mr Trump’s position on the news.
Ted Cruz: Today’s news is ‘disappointing and distrubing’
Texas senator Ted Cruz: “Today’s news was disappointing and disturbing. General Flynn has many decades of honorable service defending this nation and it is sad to see that he is now pleading guilty to criminal conduct.”
.@tedcruz: “Today’s news was disappointing and disturbing. @GenFlynn has many decades of honorable service defending this nation and it is sad to see that he is now pleading guilty to criminal conduct.” @dailybriefingpic.twitter.com/J67caJ9i9Y
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 1, 2017
Jared Kushner to be probed again
Lawmakers will want to again interview U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law turned White House adviser Jared Kushner in the wake Flynn‘s guilty plea as part of the U.S. special counsel’s investigation, the Senate intelligence panel’s top Democrat said.
“There are a number, like Mr. Kushner and others, that we’re going to want to invite back,” Senator Mark Warner said. He refused to say whether that would include Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr Warner added that he remained confident in the panel’s Republican chairman, Richard Burr.
Yesterday the New York Times reported that Mr Trump had told Mr Burr that he was eager to see the committee’s investigation end.
Flynn: Past few months have been ‘painful’
Mr Flynn released a statement following his guilty plea: “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.
“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 in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
US markets hit by Flynn revelations
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones dived as much as 1.6pc and 1.4pc, respectively, but have since pared some of their losses, Tom Rees reports.
The latter is currently sitting on a 0.6 per cent loss but the dollar is having less luck, having erased all of its gains against the pound.
CMC Markets analyst David Madden gave his review of the action on the markets in the US this afternoon:
“US markets sold off sharply after the news broke that Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser (NSA) chief is expected to plead guilty in relation to the Russia investigation. Mr Flynn is will cooperate with the government agencies and could implicate President Trump.
“Republicans in the Senate delayed voting on the tax reform so they could patch up the tax bill before pressing ahead with the vote. The GOP want to ensure all the loose ends are tied up and that sceptical Senators are brought on side. Dealers are sensing that progress is being made, but seeing as that a lot of the bill is already priced, they are now in wait and see mode.”
Former FBI director James Comey’s take on the news
Mr Comey was fired by the President while he was leading the investigation into whether Trump campaign members colluded with Russians who hacked the 2016 election. Mr Trump said he was firing Mr Comey because of the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Trump’s key tax vote overshadowed
The news has overshadowed what should have been Mr Trump’s greatest achievement in office to date – a radical overhaul of the tax system – a key policy for the administration.
In the last hour Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced the chamber had enough support to hold a vote on the biggest US tax cut in three decades.
A handful of senators opposed to the plan, including Republican John McCain, have agreed to support the legislation after receiving reassurances about the $1 trillion addition to the US deficit brought by the tax cuts.
White House lawyers deny Flynn’s comments implicate any other officials
The White House’s attorney, Ty Cobb, said: “Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.
“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.
“The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”
Mr Flynn, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was sacked as National Security Adviser by President Donald Trump after it emerged he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the extent of his contacts with Mr Kislyak.
US stocks and dollar fall following Flynn testimony
The US dollar has fallen sharply following Mr Flynn’s testimony in court, with some reports suggesting the former national security adviser is willing to testify against the president himself.
Stocks in New York also tanked within minutes of the news. The S&P 500 has shed 1.3pc of its value while the dollar has dived 0.5pc against a basket of the leading global currencies.