Kushner directed Flynn to contact Russians, according to reports - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Kushner directed Flynn to contact Russians, according to reports

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) National Security Adviser Michael Flynn speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(RNN) - Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, is reported to be the senior adviser to the Trump transition team who directed former national security adviser Michael Flynn to meet with Russian officials prior to Trump taking office.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents while serving in the White House on Friday, following an indictment. He issued a statement saying he is cooperating with the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

He entered the plea in Washington, DC, federal court after his mugshot and fingerprints were taken at an FBI field office in Washington.

As part of a plea deal, Flynn has admitted a senior member of the Trump transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.

Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI, becoming the first official who worked in the Trump White House to make a guilty plea so far in a wide-ranging investigation led by Mueller into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The government did not reveal the identity of the senior transition official. CNN, Bloomberg and the Associated Press reported Flynn's contact within the Trump transition team was Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. Kushner confirmed he is cooperating with Mueller and the special investigation.

Kushner is married to the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and serves as White House Innovations Director under his father-in-law. He has not commented on the reports, nor have any officials in leading the investigation.

The Associated Press and CNN also reported KT McFarland, deputy to Flynn while he was national security adviser, was involved in the conversations with Russia. McFarland is a former Fox News contributor and is currently awaiting Senate confirmation to become the ambassador to Singapore.

White House special counsel Ty Cobb said, "Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn."

In a statement, Flynn said he had agreed to cooperate with the investigation by Mueller.

"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," the statement said.

Flynn said accusations against him are false, but he felt cooperating was in the best interest of his family.

"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."

Following news of Flynn's guilty plea, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped sharply. It had closed above 24,000 for the first time Thursday.

Former FBI Director James Comey, whose firing led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, responded to the Flynn news Friday with a Bible verse: “But justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” Amos 5:24.

In response to the Flynn guilty plea, Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in part the special counsel "has found illegal behavior stretching into the senior most levels of the White House." He also pointed out what he called an "alarming pattern in which the President has already fired the FBI Director; pressured the Attorney General and top U.S. intelligence officials to interfere with an ongoing investigation; and contemplated issuing pardons for his associates or firing the special counsel, according to numerous press reports."

Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump's national security adviser in February after serving for less than a month.

The charge is related to statements Flynn made Jan. 24 about discussions he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak where Flynn indicated he had not discussed sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama against Russia for interfering with the 2016 election with Kislyak on Trump's behalf during the post-election transition.

At the time, the New York Times reported Obama administration officials became concerned of an agreement between Trump and Russia regarding the sanctions being lifted. Flynn's conversations were believed to violate a rarely enforced law from 1799 known as the Logan Act that prohibits negotiations with foreign governments by private citizens.

The Obama sanctions against Russia have not been lifted, and the Trump administration has not imposed new sanctions on Russia, ignoring congressional directives.

Over the summer, the House and Senate passed the "Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act."

The president signed it Aug. 2, but has done nothing with it. The White House missed an Oct. 1 deadline to target people in Russia's intelligence and defense sectors. The administration still has until early next year to impose economic sanctions that could target areas like energy and finance.

Flynn resigned as national security adviser after contradicting Trump officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, regarding sanctions against Russia. Pence had relayed false information in media interviews based on his conversations with Flynn. He later apologized to Pence and cited his misleading information to the vice president in his resignation.

Flynn was under scrutiny for failing to register as a foreign agent during the campaign for previous work he did for Turkey.

Manafort is the first administration official and fourth connected with the Trump campaign to be charged in Mueller's investigation

He ran Trump's 2016 campaign for several months pleaded not guilty in October to a 12-count indictment by a federal grand jury. Manafort’s deputy Rick Gates was also indicted. 

Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty for making a false statement to the FBI over contacts with officials connected to the Russian government.

Over the summer, Trump asked Republican senators to wrap up their investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 presidential election.

The New York Times reports the president reached out to Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, and others on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Burr, however, said Trump was still learning the ropes as president and didn't realize the "impropriety of his request."

Flynn is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who supported Trump. Flynn, a registered Democrat, was appointed to be the 18th director of the Defense Intelligence Agency by Obama. However, he retired on Aug. 7, 2014, after apparent disagreements within the organization over American's defense against Islamic terrorism.

At the Republican National Convention he delivered a boisterous speech on the United States' place in the world in which he panned the Obama administration's approach to fighting terrorism.

In addition, Flynn has expressed concern about his son as the Mueller investigation continues.

Michael Flynn Jr. served as his father's chief of staff and top aide at the Flynn Intel Group. He took an active role in his father's consulting and lobbying work at their firm. 

The younger Flynn took overseas trips with his father. One was a December 2015 visit to Moscow. Flynn dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a black-tie gala for the RT television network. U.S. intelligence considers it to be a Russian propaganda outlet.

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