WASHINGTON – A list of key players relevant to the special counsel investigation into former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn:
Michael T. Flynn
A retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration, Flynn served for less than a month as President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser. He was fired in mid-February by Trump after officials said that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his phone discussions with Sergey Kislyak, at the time the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn’s statements about his Russia contacts and his 2016 consulting work for a Turkish client both came under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He admitted Friday to making false statements about his contacts with Kislyak.
As Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Kislyak attended the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Trump was nominated as the party’s presidential candidate. During the campaign, Kislyak met several Trump aides, including then-Sen. Jeff Sessions. After Trump’s election, Kislyak spoke by phone several times with Flynn in late December, and discussed sanctions put in place by the Obama administration. The calls were monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, and days after Trump took office in January, Flynn was interviewed by FBI agents about those talks. He acknowledged, as part of his plea, to lying during that interview by saying, among other things, that he had never discussed sanctions.
Vice President Mike Pence
As media revelations emerged about Flynn’s talks with Kislyak, Pence stated publicly that he had spoken with Flynn and been assured that the national security adviser and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions. The White House later explained Flynn’s ouster by saying he had lost the trust of both Trump and Pence.
President Donald Trump
After naming Flynn to head the National Security Council in January, Trump forced him from the position less than a month later. He has since praised Flynn as a good man and has made statements, including on social media, that have appeared protective or defensive of him. On Saturday, Trump suggested that he was aware that Flynn had lied to the FBI when he ousted him on Feb. 13, saying in a tweet, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”
The former FBI director, whose firing in May precipitated the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, has said that Trump asked him during a private Oval Office encounter in February if he could see his way to letting the Flynn investigation go, and told him that Flynn was a good man. Comey has said he found the request disconcerting and documented it in an internal memo, summaries of which were later disclosed to reporters. The White House has denied the conversation occurred as Comey described.
As acting attorney general at the end of the Obama administration, Yates and another Justice Department official went to the White House on Jan. 26 to warn White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was potentially compromised and vulnerable to blackmail because of discrepancies between the public accounting of the Kislyak conversation and what actually occurred. Though White House officials including Pence had stated publicly that Flynn had not discussed sanctions with Kislyak, Yates has said she advised McGahn that there were factual problems with that account. She has said she expected the White House to take action.
Michael G. Flynn
Michael Flynn Jr., as he is known, accompanied his father on his 2015 trip to Moscow. Flynn Jr. worked for his father’s company as part of its 2016 research aimed at developing a criminal case against Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim cleric whose extradition from the U.S. has been sought by Turkey’s government. Flynn’s son was paid $12,000 for unspecified “administrative support” under the Turkish contract. Flynn Jr. also acted briefly as his father’s chief of staff during the transition, but was forced to resign after his frequent tweets on conspiracy theories.
The former deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, and former Fox News analyst, was nominated in May to be ambassador to Singapore. According to two former transition officials, McFarland was referenced in court papers Friday as the unnamed Trump transition team member who spoke with Flynn last December about what, if anything, to say about sanctions that had just been imposed on Russia by the Obama administration in response to election meddling.
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