Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a senior adviser at the White House, reportedly directed former national security adviser Michael Flynn to contact the Russian government, and others, about a United Nations resolution on Israeli settlements in Dec. 2016, according to a report.
Two former members of Trump’s transition team told Bloomberg that Kushner instructed Flynn to reach out to foreign governments, including Russia, about the resolution before the United Nations Security Council and try to convince Russia to either oppose or delay the vote.
Court documents filed Friday said a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team directed Flynn to make contacts with Russian government officials, but the member was not identified.
Documents state Flynn also discussed with senior transition team officials his contacts with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about U.S. sanctions on Russia.
Sources told NBC News that K.T. McFarland, a member of the transition team who later served as deputy national security adviser, spoke with Flynn to advise him on what to say on the call. McFarland is now Trump's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Singapore.
Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador Friday. The former national security adviser made the misleading statements during an interview with the FBI that occurred while he was working in the White House, and those statements also led to his termination as national security adviser.
The documents from federal prosecutors lay out the timeline for when Flynn communicated with high-ranking members of the Trump transition team about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, as well as the directions he was given by those officials on the issue of U.S. sanctions against Russia and the United Nations resolution about Israeli settlements.
The government’s case against Flynn does not mention President Trump, though ABC News reported Friday that Flynn planned to tell investigators Trump, as a presidential candidate, directed his contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn is planning to testify against Trump, members of the Trump family and other White House officials, and said he is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigators, who are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
According to court documents, Flynn told FBI agents in a Jan. 24 interview he did not “ask Russia’s ambassador to the United States … to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia.”
Flynn also told the FBI he didn’t recall another conversation with Kislyak, during which the Russian ambassador said Russia “had chosen not to moderate its response to those sanctions” because of Flynn’s request.
Neither statement Flynn made to the FBI was true, the government said.
The federal government said Kislyak contacted Flynn on Dec. 28, 2016, the day then-President Barack Obama signed an executive order announcing sanctions against Russia as punishment for Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
The next day, Flynn called a senior member of the Trump transition team, who at the time was with other senior transition team officials at Trump’s property in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago. During Flynn’s phone call to the senior transition team member, the two discussed what to tell the Russian ambassador about the sanctions, including how the sanctions could impact the incoming Trump administration’s foreign policy goals, according to court documents.
The transition team official and Flynn, a top Trump campaign surrogate, also talked about how members of the transition team who were at Mar-a-Lago didn’t “want Russia to escalate the situation.”
After the Dec. 29 call with the senior transition team official ended, Flynn then called Kislyak and asked that Russia “not escalate the situation and only respond to the U.S. sanctions in a reciprocal manner,” court documents state.
Flynn then called the Trump transition team official to discuss his call with Kislyak.
The following day, Dec. 30, 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement Russia wouldn’t retaliate against the U.S. in response to the sanctions.
Kislyak called Flynn on or around Dec. 31, 2016, to tell him that Moscow decided not to retaliate “in response to Flynn’s request.”
Flynn placed a call to senior transition team officials to discuss his call with Kislyak regarding the sanctions and Russia’s decision “not to escalate the situation,” according to court documents.
In addition to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, Flynn also made false statements during his Jan. 24 interview about contacts with Russia and other countries regarding a resolution before the United Nations Security Council introduced Dec. 21, 2016.
Flynn lied to the FBI about asking countries their positions on the resolution, and falsely said he didn’t ask the countries to vote a certain way.
According to court documents, a “very senior member” of the Trump transition team told Flynn on or around Dec. 22, 2016, to contact officials from foreign governments, including Russia, to determine their positions on the resolution, which was on the issue of Israeli settlements.
The “very senior member” of the transition team also directed Flynn to “influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution.”
Flynn contacted Kislyak on Dec. 22, 2016, and told him about the incoming Trump administration’s opposition to the UN resolution. He also asked for Russia to oppose or delay the resolution, according to the federal government.
Flynn spoke with Kislyak again Dec. 23, 2016, and the Russian ambassador said Russia wouldn’t oppose the resolution.
Trump’s former national security adviser is the first member of the administration to be charged as part of Mueller’s Russia probe.
The White House attempted to distance itself from Flynn on Friday and said the false statements he gave to the FBI are the same that ultimately led to his firing.
“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” President Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said in a statement. “The conclusion of this phase of the special counsel’s work demonstrates again that the special counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”