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2 Dec 2017

Tension As Former NSA Head Is Prepared To Testify That Trump Directed Him To Contact Russians About ISIS

Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn has promised “full cooperation” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and, according to a confidant, is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria.
The stunning turn comes as Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his back-channel negotiations with the Russian ambassador – talks that occurred before Trump took office. The special counsel made the plea agreement public Friday morning.

The confidant provided ABC News with new details on Friday about Trump’s instructions to Flynn. During the campaign, Trump asked Flynn to be one of a small group of close advisors charged with improving relations in Russia and other hot spots. The source said Trump phoned Flynn shortly after the election to explicitly ask him to “serve as point person on Russia,” and to reach out personally to Russian officials to develop strategies to jointly combat ISIS.
PHOTO: Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives for a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, December 1, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The confidant told ABC News that Flynn felt abandoned by Trump in recent weeks, and told friends about the decision to make the plea deal within the last 24 hours as he grew increasingly concerned about crippling legal costs he would face if he continued to contest the charges.

“Flynn is very angry,” the confidant told ABC News Friday. “He will cooperate truthfully on any question they ask him.”

In a prepared statement, Flynn expressed regret, but also stood defiant against the more scurrilous allegations that circulated about his work with Russia.

“It has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of ‘treason’ and other outrageous acts,” Flynn said in a statement. “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.”

Richard Frankel, a former senior aide to Flynn and an ABC News contributor, said Flynn made his decision to cooperate under immense pressure, but he believes it is the right move for the country.

“I don't know how much General Flynn knows about any criminal activity that took place during the campaign or in the White House,” said Frankel, who also served in a senior role at the FBI. “However, General Flynn was a top adviser to President Trump in the campaign and a top adviser to him when he entered into the WH so if there are bodies buried so to speak, General Flynn would know about them in my opinion.”
PHOTO:Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, left, with his attorney Robert Kelner, center, as he arrives for a plea hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington,D.C., Dec. 1, 2017. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI about the nature of his conversations with then-Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Those conversations led Russian officials to temper their response to increased U.S. sanctions, according to the charging documents.

The charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, but according to court documents, Flynn likely faces a sentence of zero to six months.

The White House had claimed it was unaware of the substance of those conversations, but today’s court documents show Flynn was acting specifically at the direction of senior transition team officials.

On the same day President Obama imposed tough sanctions on Russian facilities in the U.S. for meddling in the election, the Russian ambassador called Flynn to talk about them. After that conversation, Flynn consulted with a senior transition team official who said the Trump “did not want Russia to escalate the situation,” so Flynn relayed the request directly to Kislyak.

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