U.S. President Donald Trump, in his first comment on a guilty plea by his first national security adviser Michael Flynn to lying to the FBI, said on Saturday there was "absolutely no collusion" between his campaign and Russia.
Trump made his comment to reporters as he departed the White House. Taking to Twitter later in the day, Trump said Flynn's actions after the 2016 election were "lawful."
"I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!" Trump said in a tweet.
I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2017
CNN reported that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and K.T. McFarland, a former adviser, were the transition officials who directed Flynn to contact Russian officials. CNN also reported McFarland met with investigators for special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.
The White House said in a statement that the guilty plea implicates Flynn alone. "Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn," said Ty Cobb, a White House attorney.
"The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year," Cobb said, adding that the plea "clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion" of the Office of the Special Counsel's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential collusion by Trump's campaign.
One of the events Flynn lied about to the FBI is a conversation with Russia's ambassador to the United States in December 2016 about a vote on Israel's settlements in the West Bank at the UN Security Council.
According to the Justice Department, Flynn contacted the Russian ambassador back in December 2016, ahead of the UN vote on the settlements, to inquire if Russia would agree to veto it. The vote took place before Trump took office, while the Obama administration was still in power.
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