President Donald Trump on Saturday downplayed the magnitude of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, similar to the stance the White House took on the charge when it was made public Friday.
Speaking to reporters before boarding Marine One Saturday morning to travel to New York City, Trump reiterated three times that the charges show that there was “no collusion” between his campaign or transition team and the Russian government.
“What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion,” he said, via the White House press pool report. “There’s been absolutely no collusion, so we’re very happy. And frankly last night was one of the big nights. … We’ll see what happens.”
But according to charging documents filed Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller, a “very senior member of the Presidential Transition Team” and another “senior” member of the same team directed Flynn to call Russian officials or counseled Flynn on how to discuss sanctions with the Russians.
Multiple media outlets reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner was the “very senior” member of the team who asked Flynn to call Russia and other countries about a UN Security Council resolution about Israel week’s before the President took office.
The Associated Press reported Saturday that Flynn’s Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland was the “senior” official who spoke with Flynn about how to discuss Obama administration sanctions against Russia with a former Russian ambassador to the U.S.
For months, Mueller and a team of investigators have been probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to win.