U.S. President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to federal investigators over his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Flynn’s guilty plea on Friday is yet another indication the former aide is cooperating with a special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 presidential election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
In a statement released after his court appearance, Flynn said “the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.”
WATCH: Flynn arrives at court
Flynn was charged with one felony charge of lying about two private conversations he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a charge that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
A court document released Friday shows the conversations focused on U.S. sanctions that were being imposed on Russia by the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama.
The document, signed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, says that in January, days after Trump’s inauguration, Flynn “did willfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations” to investigators about the conversation with Kislyak.
Lied to FBI
Prosecutors allege Flynn falsely told FBI officials in December 2016 that he did not ask Kislyak to refrain from escalating the matter after the U.S. “imposed the sanctions against Russia that same day.”
The filing also says Flynn falsely stated he did not remember Kislyak informing him the Kremlin had decided to “moderate its response to those sanctions” in response to Flynn’s request.
The court records state that Flynn lied about a separate December conversation, when he said he did not ask Kislyak to delay a vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution. The court document says Flynn also falsely claimed the Russian ambassador never described Moscow’s response to that request. The filing did not include further details.
Flynn’s attorneys recently informed Trump’s legal team they had to end discussions about the special counsel’s probe, an indication Flynn had started to cooperate with prosecutors.
The plea agreement, which was finalized at the hearing, could help investigators determine if President Trump was aware of inappropriate contacts with the Russians.
In exchange for the plea deal, which stipulates Flynn must “cooperate fully,” the Special Counsel’s office said Flynn “will not be further prosecuted criminally.”
As U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras accepted Flynn’s plea, he warned Flynn he could potentially impose a maximum sentence above the sentencing guidelines.
“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,” Flynn said in a statement.
Trump’s lawyer responds
White House lawyer Ty Cobb said Flynn’s guilty plea does not implicate “anyone other than Mr. Flynn” and added Flynn was a “former Obama administration official” who served in the Trump White House for only 25 days.
Flynn is the first official who worked in the White House to be charged in the special counsel investigation. The 58-year-old retired Army Lt. General was forced to resign as Trump’s national security adviser less than two months after Trump entered the White House following revelations he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” added Cobb.