It seems that Trump’s swamp just keeps getting deeper and murkier. In an interview with FBI agents in January, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lied about discussing U.S. sanctions with the Russian Ambassador before Donald Trump was sworn in as President, reports the Washington Post. This contradicts the content of communications intercepted by a variety of U.S. intelligence agencies, and could spell serious trouble for the disgraced Trump official.
That’s because lying to the FBI is a felony offense. Rather than just losing the job the president appointed him to, the former 3-star General could wind up in prison. However, the decision to prosecute Flynn lies with the Justice Department, and officials have stated that building a case against him may prove difficult.
When asked for comment, Flynn and his representation declined to respond. Representatives for the FBI also declined to offer comment.
Communications intercepted by U.S. intelligence agents revealed earlier this month that Michael T. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army general and Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, spoke with Sergey Kislyak, Russian Ambassador to the U.S. He vehemently denied for weeks that the conversation, which happened in December, touched on sanctions that the Obama administration brought against Russia in response to interfering in the U.S. presidential election, until evidence to the contrary was made available to the press. Flynn said in an interview with the Daily Caller that the conversation with Kislyak did not involve sanctions against Russia, but touched on then-president Obama’s decision to expel 35 diplomats, which was considered part of the punishment being imposed upon Moscow for tampering with the election.
The Washington Post first reported that Flynn had lied to Vice President Pence about the content of his call with Kislyak, and also reported that higher-ups at the Justice Department had cautioned the White House that Flynn could have been compromised by the possibility of Russian blackmail. Trump requested his resignation shortly thereafter, on Monday evening.
Following the FBI interview in question, Sally Q. Yates, who had been acting as Attorney General until a replacement was nominated and confirmed, told Trump counselor Donald McGahn about the true nature of the call between Kislyak and Flynn. Yates, as well as a group of other U.S. officials, believed that Russia might use Flynn’s dishonesty about his call to blackmail him. They also believed that Vice President Pence should be informed about the true nature of the communications between the Russian ambassador and Trump’s National Security Adviser.
Trump continued to defend his nominee as late as Thursday, referring to him as a “fine person”, and reiterating that Flynn had not done anything wrong in his communications with Kislyak.
Officials with the Justice Department and U.S. intelligence agencies, however, disagreed. They believed that Flynn’s statements were at the very least improper, and potentially illegal. Flynn had allegedly implied that Russia could anticipate the sanctions being lifted or lightened under president Trump.
The road to building a case against Flynn will be difficult, though. The best chance would be to find him in violation of the 1799 Logan Act, which prevents private citizens from meddling in diplomatic negotiations.
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