Ex-Trump aide Flynn says Trump transition team directed him to contact Russians

WASHINGTON — As part of a plea deal, former national security adviser Michael Flynn has admitted that a senior member of the Trump transition team directed him to make contact with Russian officials in December 2016.

Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat, becoming the first official who worked in the Trump White House to make a guilty plea so far in a wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

The government did not reveal the identity of the senior transition official.

Flynn has been under investigation for a wide range of allegations, including his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey, but the fact that he was charged only with a single count of making false statements suggests he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation in exchange for leniency.

Court documents show Flynn admitted to lying about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the transition period before Trump’s inauguration.

The retired Army lieutenant general was an early and vocal supporter on the campaign trail of Trump whose business dealings and foreign interactions made him a central focus of Mueller’s investigation.