tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN December 1, 2017 8:00am-9:00am PST
because you'll get the full value back including depreciation. switch and you could save $782 on home and auto insurance. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, i'm kate bolduan. we are continuing to follow this breaking news. president trump's former national security adviser michael flynn is expected to plead guilty to making false statements to the fbi. a felony. this could be happening as we speak. this is the -- this in the special counsel's investigation
into possible collusion between the trump campaign and russia. this is the first charge in robert mueller's probe that has reached president trump's white house. we are watching that courthouse. let's get straight to that courthouse where michael flynn is inside with his attorneys. cnn justice correspondent evan perez is there. evan, michael flynn he's still facing the judge the last that we know. what do we know is happening inside? >> right. right now we're hearing reports from reporters who are inside the courtroom that the judge has now accepted that guilty plea from michael flynn. that means he is now officially pleaded guilty to this one count from the u.s. special -- from the special counsel robert mueller's office. there are four separate lies that he's agreeing to, to plead guilty to. two of them having to do with conversations with the russian ambassador at the time, sergey kislyak back in december, and a separate two conversations that he apparently had with the russians related to a u.n. security resolution regarding
israel. there was a lot of lobbying from the israeli government to the incoming trump administration to try to stop that and it appears, according to the court documents that were filed today, that michael flynn was part of those conversations with the russians regarding that. so four separate false statements. one guilty count that he has now agreed to. we're not going to see a trial. but at a minimum, what we expect from this, and again we're waiting to hear more details of what was discussed in the courtroom, but at a minimum we expect that michael flynn will be telling the prosecutors everything he knows. who might have told him to have those conversations with the russians. we don't know who might have directed him to do that. we know from the white house in the past that the president has said that he didn't know about those conversations. we'll see what michael flynn says when he talks to the fbi, when he talks to the special counsel's office, about those conversations. again, at this hour we're waiting to see whether michael flynn comes out this door or perhaps another door.
we know that he has been in the courtroom for about a half hour and we're hearing from reporters in the room that the judge has now ac be sented the guilty plea -- accepted the guilty plea. michael flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi at least four times. >> and yeah, he walked in the courtroom right past you a little over a half hour ago. let's see if -- i think it's highly unlikely he will probably want to talk on his way back out but that's why we are there and you're positioned there. thank you so much. let's get from the courthouse now straight over to the white house in this serious moment. white house correspondent abby philip is there. we've had no -- i've seen no official reaction from the white house yet. what are you hearing? >> that's right, kate. radio silence from the white house this morning. we asked for a statement several hours ago now, the white house has promised one coming from the lawyer within the white house, ty cobb who deals with the russia investigation, but so far nothing. we are hearing, though, from some sources close to the white house who are painting this as
an expected result of michael flynn lying. we know he lied to the vice president about these very same conversations that led to this indictment and that those lies led to his firing from the white house less than a month after the inauguration, so folks close to the white house are essentially saying we knew this was coming down the pike and we knew that michael flynn would likely be in trouble for that kind of conduct. at the same time, this is really different because he was the national security adviser at the time. it is very close to the president's inner circle and is within the realm of this administration, kate. >> at the very same time, this is also coming as "the new york times" is reporting overnight and into today that president trump over the summer had been trying to pressure top republican lawmakers on capitol hill to wrap up and i think the wording was move on from their own russia investigations. what kind of reaction are you getting to that over at the white house now? >> the white house is essentially saying that the president really did nothing
wrong here. we know that as you said he spoke to three different united states senators, pressuring them to bring this investigation to a close quickly. the white house principal deputy put out a statement yesterday that said that the president has at no point attempted to imply undue influence on the committee members and reiterated what he said publicly, there is no evidence of collusion and that these investigations must come to a fair and appropriate completion. so the white house is essentially saying there was nothing wrong with the white house -- with the president having these conversations and notably, the republican memberses of congress he pressured in this way, chauklke it to president trump being a political novice. >> that going on as well. thank you so much. we'll see if we get any reaction from capitol hill when we do with we will bring all of that to you. but let's discuss the big moment as we keep our eyes on the screen on the courthouse, the federal courthouse, in
washington, where evan perez is outside. gloria borger joining me now, chief political analyst, michael moore, former u.s. attorney, jeffrey toobin, cnn's chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor and jim sciutto the chief national security correspondent. keep our eye to see if michael flynn will be leaving and what more we learn from the courtroom, but gloria, as we do that, just taking stock of this moment, what does this all mean? >> well, look, i think you have the very senior person who didn't last long in this administration, but somebody who was quite close to the president, at the heart of foreign policy admitting that pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators about conversations with foreign governments. and i think it's incredibly serious. i think there are tentacles that will come out of this and questions that we should be asking that come out of this,
which is, was he taking direction from anyone? was he freelancing when he spoke during the transition with ambassador kislyak about important matters of state? was he freelancing or was he directed? and was he freelancing when he spoke about a pending united nations vote with the russian ambassador? why was he doing that? was it just something he decided to do on his own? was he charged or tasked with doing it? and if there is a cooperation going on here, we ought to be asking the question about why the special counsel's office thinks that it's so important to have michael flynn cooperate. and while i've spoken be to a source close to the president who kind of downplays this, and
said he doesn't believe that there's any problem here for the president of the united states, the question is, you know, whether they were trying to conduct foreign policy before they were in office. >> yeah. and that's a very important thing. there is this whole standard of one president at a time, but let's see what comes out of all of this. they clearly say in this -- in this agreement, if you will, in the charge that they don't think he was doing just that. jeffrey toobin, we're waiting to see michael flynn leave the courthouse, but this is narrow, this charge is narrow. that doesn't diminish its significance but it is narrow. does that out of necessity, when he pleads guilty, mean that he has cut a deal? >> yes. it does mean he cut a deal. i mean, a plea bargain is by definition a deal. agreed to waive a grand jury indictment. he has avoided the prospect of charges in other areas, and the
prosecutors have given up the right to charge him in other areas in return for the certainty of a guilty plea. something to keep in mind as we think about this guilty plea today, think about james comey, the former fbi director's testimony about what happened on february 14th, valentine's day of this year, when he was at a group meeting at the white house with the vice president, with the attorney general, and the president asked everyone to leave except for james comey, the fbi director, and what does the president say to james comey. he says, according to comey, go easy on mike flynn. >> lay off flynn. >> can you lay off flynn? can you figure out any way, you know, to lay off flynn. and the question that is even more important to answer today is why, why was the president so concerned about a criminal investigation of michael flynn? was it because he just liked
michael flynn? it was a humanitarian gesture? was he worried about what michael flynn might say if he cooperated with the government. this question becomes extremely important and that's why michael flynn's cooperation is important. another thing to ask is, look at t the lies that he has admitted to making. they involve subjects that donald trump is very interested in. relationships with russia, relationships with israel. what conversations did michael flynn have with the president of the united states about the subjects that he lied to the fbi about? >> right. >> and why did he lie to the fbi about them? while he was national security adviser. that's the other important thing to remember, is that these lies took place on january 24th. he was already the national security adviser. he was briefing president trump
every morning about the state of the world. that's what national security advisors do. why was he committing a felony on the day he was the national security adviser? incredibly important questions that we may or may not get answers to. >> that's right. and also, while these documents do not mention donald trump, do not mention the election, do not mention, you know, that sort of thing, it does, as he put it that way, seems to also kind of put the spotlight back on the president. michael moore, a question for you, when it comes to what -- where this moment that we're in right now, the fact that they have let's say they have a guilty plea, and assume that there is cooperation, of course, with michael flynn, does that happen at the beginning or the end of the cooperation that this all comes out and becomes public? >> i think this is exactly what you expect to see if there was cooperation and from a timeline standpoint, there's probably ongoing cooperation but my belief is that bob mueller
already has the information from michael flynn that he needs. there's nothing particularly innovative about what's happening today, and that is that this is simply a plea, clearly what the lesser charge he could have gotten with all the allegations that have been swirling around mike flynn, but this is normal. there's nothing innovative about it. classic federal prosecutor style and what we expect from bob mueller and what's got the white house probably scared to death. this is not unlike a tube of toothpaste. you squeeze it at the bottom and the more you squeeze the more evidence comes out at one end. that's what's happening here as we continue to see bob mueller squeezing people in trump's inner circle. what's significant and let me go back to something that jeff said, you know, jim comey talked about the fact that the president tried to stop the investigation into mike flynn. trump has called that fake news, a fake investigation. well as of about five minutes ago when a federal judge accepted a guilty plea it's not fake anymore.
it's a legitimate investigation where a member of trump's inner circle tried to communicate or did communicate apparently with a foreign government, trying to effect national policy or international policy. it's no longer fake. it's real today. >> yeah. and jim, when it comes to kind of the context of all of this and maybe i'm making it too simplistic, it's worth breaking it down, he's charged for lying, yes, it's narrow, but what he's charged with is lying about talking or working with a russian government official about official government business before they were officially in office? that's the whole thing. >> that violates the one president at a time issue right. the transition, president obama is still president and president obama had imposed new sanctions on russia for election interference. there's one president at a time. keep in mind, the white house and the president's pushback on the russia froeb the beginning has been -- probe from the beginning is it's a witch hunt and nothing there and involved
low-level people, coffee boy like papadopolous. that has broken down at every turn. one, we're talking about very senior president. the president's national security adviser here, his former campaign chairman manafort, deputy campaign chairman rick gates. two, lying is a federal crime and as evan perez has made the point on the air, one count, but about four separate lies. repeated lying we're talking about here. those lies are not conversations about golf games. these are lies about conversations about issues material and very relevant to this administration and to national security of this country. conversations with the russian ambassador, the ambassador to the country that had just interfered in the election. conversations about a u.n. security council resolution regarding israel, very material, important conversations, so the defense breaks -- the administration's defense or dismissal rather i should say of the investigation, breaks down. one final point when you look at the timeline here, flynn lied i
believe it's january 24th. he was interviewed by the fbi then. couple days later sally yates makes her warning to the white house because he lied he could be a national security risk. and a couple weeks later the president asks the then director of the fbi james kecom to stop the investigation into michael flynn. that's the president's direct involvement or attempting to be directly involved. that timeline is very key. >> and gloria, as you're getting reaction from folks close to the white house and president, what do you make of what jim acosta got for a source close to the white house, that poor judgment -- >> guys can i -- >> poor judgment, but that -- but this was expected. trump fired him for lying to the v.p. of course he lied to the fbi too. >> right. >> look, this is what -- this is what people close to the white house are saying, which is that, you know, they're circling the wagons around the president and saying none of this could
potentially affect the president because whatever flynn did, he did on his own. going back to what jim was just saying, this timeline, is really, really important to key in on because people don't do these things on their own. would flynn as an acting, you know, national security adviser be contacting these officials on his own or would it have been something that he had talked to others in the white house about? potentially including the president of the united states. i mean, we don't know. what we do know is that these -- >> small conversations, right? these weren't small things. >> what we do know is that sally yates over at justice was looking at intercepts of these conversations and she found them so troubling that she personally rushed over to the white house and met with the white house counsel, don mcgahn, and said,
you need to know about these conversations, these are inflammatory, right. and then two days later, i mean, two days before that, flynn had been interviewed. so i think we -- we have to kind of -- >> that is amazing. >> step back and look at a big picture here and say, what was the justice department so concerned about? these conversations that should not have been taking place. who directed these conversations? then we have to proceed from there. why is he cooperating? and why does the special counsel think what he knows is important? >> right. why do they see it as worthy to cut this deal with him. someone was trying to pipe in? >> kate, let me just say this real quick, you know, one rule when you look at these muellepl agreements is the bigger the deal the bigger the fish. they don't cut a deal unless going way up the chain -- >> do you think this is a good
deal. >> with all the things swirling around he could have been charged with, only lesser felony he could have been clarmds with is [ inaudible ] of a felony, this carries one to five years, that sounds like a lot but think about what we've had with the monetary allegations, with the lying, the discussions with russia, this whole thing, whether or not it's about the kidnapping with his son and turkey, he's got a lot of stuff hanging out there. this is about as light a slap on the wrist and i don't ever want to call a felony a slap on the wrist, about as good a deal he could have gotten at the time. that tells me they have good information and that he has -- his lawyers have cut him a deal and said if you want the person up the chain whoever that is, we need that good deal. >> well, i mean, it is fascinating in this moment as we get answers as we see as this happens, it is creating a whole new round of questions that you all are raising that are super important at this moment. keeping our eye on the courthouse, we will continue following the major breaking news, of course. former national security adviser
michael flynn appearing right there in a federal courtroom to plead guilty to lying to the fbi. lying to the fbi on four different things. a major advance in these special counsel's investigation into russian election meddling. more, much more of this, right after a quick break. (laughter on tv) when it's finally sunday and you've got no plans but with your comfy pants... (alert chime on phone) keep it simple with marie callender's roasted turkey & stuffing. tender turkey with stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, and made from scratch gravy. spoiler alert, things are about to get good. (click, laughter on tv) because me time calls for marie callender's. my friend susie cracks and hello sensitive bladder. ring a bell?
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more research on them. for drivers with accident forgiveness, liberty mutual won't raise your rates due to your first accident. switch and you could save $782 on home and auto insurance. call for a free quote today. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. breaking news unfolding in washington right now. moments ago, president trump's one-time national security adviser michael flynn entered a federal courtroom, there right now expected to plead guilty to one felony count of lying to the fbi about conversations that he
had with russia's ambassador to the united states. this is a major move in special counsel robert mueller's investigation. this also now marks the first trump administration official to be charged in mueller's investigation. we're keeping our eye on that courthouse right now to see flynn is expected probably to be leaving any minute now. as we wait for that over to the capitol, where there are, of course, three separate ongoing investigations into russian meddling in the 2016 election. manu raju is following all of this for us. manu, how are lawmakers reacting to the big news this morning? >> well you're hearing more democratic reaction than republican reaction at the moment. democrats saying this raises significant concerns about just how -- who directed michael flynn to do what and they say this really shows a good reason why the special counsel's investigation should continue unimpeded. now, dianne feinstein, the top democrat on the judiciary committee put out a statement saying this it's critical we determine whether flynn spoke with the russians on his own
initiative and who knew and approved of his actions. this is just one more proof point that these investigations must be allowed to continue without interference. now kate, i also spoke with tim kaine, who is hillary clinton's vice presidential running mate last year, and he recalled all those accidents of michael flynn saying "lock her up, lock her up" referring to hillary clinton during the campaign season. i asked him for his reaction. here's what he said. >> not surprised. yeah, not surprised. >> why do you say that? >> well, i think the, at least the quick report of the charge, it seems obvious to me that he had made a lot of misstatements to a whole lot of people. the frightening thing this guy was the national security adviser of the united states and key foreign policy adviser to the president. >> now republicans on the other hand have not been as vocal including the senate intelligence committee chairman richard burr who i tried to ask about the flynn news as well.
he did not want to comment on that. in addition, he's been under some scrutiny after a "new york times" report from last night saying the president himself reached out to him earlier this summer and asked him to end the senate intelligence committee's russia investigation, but trying to get him to respond to that report today, richard burr refused to answer questions, walked down the hallway pretty briskly, into an elevator, said that he did not want to respond to any questions whatsoever about this topic today. largely because a lot of questions about whether the president acted inappropriately. burr had told the "times" he saw it as someone who is a newcomer to politics, more than anything else. but a lot of questions about that and what that means for the investigation going forward. kate? >> that's absolutely right. a lot of pats on the shoulder for you in that video as richard burr tried to get in the elevator as fast as possible. we'll get back to you, manu, more to come from capitol hill for sure. more breaking news coming in.
straight back over to the courthouse where michael flynn has been inside pleading guilty -- we're learning he is pleading guilty. justice correspondent evan perez is there with much more detail coming out of the courtroom. what are you picking up? >> that's right, kate. we had one of our writers inside the courtroom who tells us that he has now officially pleaded guilty. he really only answered yes, and no questions to the judge, to essentially describe that he was not being coerced to plead guilty or promised anything in particular, but we learned from the hearing that prosecutors in court and the fbi essentially described that flynn had conversations with senior trump officials during the transition and also with the russian ambassador, according to the fbi, which was -- which spoke inside the hearing. flynn communicated with kislyak after asked by a senior trump transition official to find out how foreign governments stood on
the upcoming u.n. security resolution about israel. new information we learned from the -- information from filed in court this morning. we knew about his conversations with kislyak regarding sanctions that were leveled by the obama administration relating to the 2016 russian meddling. what was new in these documents was the additional conversations with the russians about the u.n. security resolution over israeli settlements. if you remember, the obama administration decided for the first time in a long time, to abstain from that vote, which was, of course, a very controversial thing, very unpopular with the israelis, and they had reached out to the trump administration to try to get some intervention. it appears flynn was part of that and according to the fbi in court today, flynn communicated with kislyak after being asked by a senior trump transition official to find out how foreign governments stood on the -- on that u.n. security council
resolution. the problem for flynn was this, there's a law, a law that's never really been tested in court, the logan act, which says that there is only one government at a time, one u.s. government at a time, and it is illegal for a u.s. citizen to do anything to interfere with the exercise of foreign policy by the sitting u.s. government and that's what the allegation has long been on this. of course it's a law that a lot of people say is unconstitutional, has never been tested. in court today we're learning that that is part of what was at play here for prosecutors in the u.s. in the special counsel's office. kate? >> so now, evan, we know he has pleaded guilty and this new information is coming out, is the hearing with the judge over? do we know? >> we know that the hearing is wrapping up and we expect that he's going to be leaving the courthouse any time now. we see a vehicle that we expect he's going to get into sitting here waiting. so he's making his way down here. we expect that at any moment he might be exiting and we'll try
to see if he wants to answer any questions. don't hold your breath on that. >> i will not. that is for sure. evan, but nonetheless, always try. we'll get back to you. thank you so much. with me now, more on these developments, back with me is michael moore, former u.s. attorney and jeffrey toobin, chief legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. jeffrey on this new information that is coming in from inside the courtroom, some answers to some of the questions gloria actually posed, who directed flynn to have these conversations or was he freelancing. according to prosecutors, according to the fbi, a trump transition official directed flynn to have these conversations. these previously unknown discussions specifically between the russian ambassador and michael flynn about that u.n. security council vote. that was not known before. it is now. that's coming out in this hearing. your reaction to all this? >> well, you know, that's only the beginning of what we need to
know about these conversations. yes, he was told to have these conversations by a trump transition official. who was it. and then perhaps more importantly, who did he tell about those conversations? these are certainly presidential level -- this is presidential level information, so it is critical to know whether he shared this with the president. >> actually, jeffrey, just as you're asking that, my producer is handing me more information coming out from the courtroom, that gets to exactly what you're asking. from inside the courtroom the prosecutor statement in court and i'll read it, this is fascinating december 29th, flynn called senior trump transition team at mar-a-lago to discuss conversations with kislyak. there were multiple conversations with the transition while he was having conversations with kislyak about russia sanctions and the russia response. the prosecutors did not name who these transition officials were, though. fascinating. >> yeah. i mean, yeah.
we're getting piecemeal information about what went on here. i think it is critical to find out why he had these conversations, at whose direction, did anyone now that he was going to lie to the fbi? did anyone know he was going to be interviewed by the fbi? and what did he tell people and did he tell the president or the president-elect about these conversations? i mean, it's -- this has to be done -- >> a little bit and raises more questions. >> sorry? >> we're getting these little bits but it raises many more important questions. >> yes. it certainly does. we're agreeing about that. >> we can always agree on that. michael, something that i've kind of wondering as all of this is playing out, more information from the courtroom about what the fbi knows, what they -- and what is in this plea, why would prosecutors cut the deal with him? >> well, they're trying to get
more information on people, perhaps involved in a cover-up or obstruction or a violation of the logan act or whatever theory that bob mueller is moving forward on. the hearing that took place today is a very simple hearing. it's just to come forward and say yes, based on this indictment, which is basically a page and a half charging document, it's an information indictment, that, you know, i did those things. the prosecutor has to set out how they believe the government would prove that and why, in fact, these are lies and how they know that's a lie. they're not telling the whole story. they're not under any duty in the courtroom to talk about other aspects of the investigation or statements flynn might have made about conversations with donald trump or paul manafort. this is a fairly limited information charging document that sets forth several ways which they allege that he committed a violation of the federal law. and to simply giving some information to support moving
forward and support the court accepting this plea. so we really don't know what else is out there, but i can tell you that having looked at this, and been involved in plea negotiations for some time, that this tells me that bob mueller's team has gotten some information from michael flynn they believe to be critical in their investigation going forward. now, whether that's an investigation against trump, whether that is an investigation on jared kushner, or little don, or manafort or whoever it is, then it tells me that they believe that he's got credible information that is essential for them to give him this type of plea. >> michael, jeffrey, hold on one second. i want to head back to the courthouse in d.c. the federal courthouse where michael flynn is inside. evan perez is outside getting more detail. evan? >> that's right, kate. we have now on the record statement from lieutenant general -- retired general michael flynn. i will read the entire statement. he says, after over 33 years of military service to our country
including five years in combat away from my family and then my decision to continue to serve the united states, it has been an extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of treason and other outrageous acts, such false accusations are contrary to everything i have stood -- i've ever done and stood for but i recognize that the actions i acknowledge in court today were wrong and through my faith in god i am working to set things right. my guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflected the decision i made in the interest -- best interest of my family and of our country. i expect -- i accept full responsibility for my actions. there you have michael flynn for the first time officially acknowledging that he, obviously, has pleaded guilty and he has agreed to cooperate with the office of special counsel. obviously a painful day for somebody who has served the country for three decades. we know his family members were in court today watching this all
go down. he's going to exit this courthouse with people holding signs that say "lock him up" people power versus putin power. people who are unhappy with the trump administration and with what michael flynn has done. but there's no doubt, you know, after serving the country for 30 years, it's a difficult day for michael flynn to be pleading guilty to a federal crime in the courthouse here in washington. >> yeah. i mean, of course, michael flynn very famously during the republican convention joined in the chants of "lock her up" why the signs are out there now. let me go back to jeffrey and michael back with me. jeffrey, we have confirmation from michael flynn himself in the statement he is cooperating with the special counsel's office. what -- do we find out what that cooperation is? >> well, we don't know the full extent of it. we know that he has agreed to cooperate and be fully debriefed in this -- and the information
that the prosecutor is saying in court, even as we speak, right here, is certainly part of the information he provided. if i can just react a little to -- >> of course. >> to michael flynn's statement there, he served for 33 years. and, you know, i think it's an insult to the hundreds of thousands of veterans in this country who manage to serve their country admirably for 30 years or three years, and then not become convicted fellens. just because you served your country in the military, doesn't mean that you get a pass for being convicted felon which is what michael flynn is right now. most veterans in this country are honorable, law abiding citizens, not felons like michael flynn. the idea that, you know, he gets, you know, he gets credit and somehow an excuse that he
served his country i think is pretty unpersuasive, at least to me. >> all right. so breaking news in, michael flynn, pleads guilty to lying to the fbi in a federal courtroom right now. we are looking outside the courthouse waiting for him to depart. also confirming a statement is evan perez was reading he is cooperating with the special counsel, with robert mueller's team, in their investigation into russian collusion during the 2016 election with the trump campaign. much more on this breaking news after a quick break. when you have a cold,
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washington. president trump's former national security adviser michael flynn pleading guilty moments ago to lying to the fbi in conjunction with conversations he had with then russian ambassador to the united states sergey kislyak pleading guilty and in a statement that he issued moments ago confirming he is now cooperating with robert mueller and his special counsel team. i'll read you just a part of the statement. my guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflects a decision i made in the best interest of my family and of our country. i accept full responsibility for my actions. michael flynn, we are waiting to depart from the courthouse any time now and we will bring that to you when it happens. with me michael moore, former u.s. attorney and steven levin, former federal prosecutor and former u.s. attorney. thank you for being here. steven, new voice to the conversation, your reaction to everything we're seeing coming out especially what we're hearing now from michael flynn? >> so just to follow up on jeffrey toobin's point, before
the break, i have been in the army for almost 30 years, i was active duty and now i'm in the reserves and as jeffrey mentioned, i am offended by michael flynn's remarks about his prior service. it is his military service that put him in a position that he was in and he squandered that opportunity to serve this country, to continue to serve this country, by lying to fbi officials. so it is offensive. his remarks should have been nothing more than i lied to the fbi, i regret it, i have extreme remorse for it and i chose to plead guilty and cooperate. instead, he distances himself from any feelings of remorse, and just says, well, what i did was in my family's best interest. but then he references his military background. so, it's offensive and i don't think he served himself well by
making -- >> i'm going to cut you off. looking at michael flynn leave right now. let's listen. >> [ inaudible ]. [ inaudible ]. >> and that was a quick departure. michael flynn, retired general -- retired lieutenant general de parting after the courthouse after he becomes the first member of the trump administration to be charged and plead guilty. in robert mueller's russia investigation. quick departure, no surprise. absolutely. steven, you're back with me still. as you were just reacting and i think your reaction is very important, that gets to what michael flynn said in this -- i
think we lost steven. go to you, michael, because, of course, you're qualified to answer this question as well. michael flynn departs the courthouse, what is next? >> well, this is not a charge that requires even a consideration for mandatory incarceration after a plea. there are some charges that do. this is not one. he will be out. there will be a presentence report that's prepared that will give the court some information on his background. my guess that will be pushed off, sentencing some time months away that will give the special counsel time to continuing to talk to flynn, to continue to talk to people around him. i'm not surprised really at all to hear his statement. i've heard those statements from both people that i've prosecuted and people i've represented. and they get in there and they invoke god and invoke country and they somehow they think that cleanses them of all wrong doing. but in this case, this is not a situation where he got caught drunk driving on the army post. this is a situation where he during the time of presidential
transition, he was communicating with a foreign government about effecting international policy and matters affecting our national security. this is not a small thing. you don't get to shrug it off. i'm not surprised to hear him talk about all the great things he's done because i don't know how a man of much substance would have stood up cheering about locking hillary clinton up when he knew this type of thing was going on in his background, too, and was capable of making these communications with russian officials. so i don't really think there's anything spectacular about what he said. we know from the documents he's cooperating. we know probably from the timing of this that he's cooperating. we don't know who the target now is or the targets are for the mueller investigation but my guess they've been squeezing michael flynn pretty hard to get information that he knows about high up trump administration officials and what communications and dealings are going on with russia. as i said earlier, not many months ago, the president liked to call this fake news and a
fake investigation and a witchhunt. as of today, this -- there is no fake investigation. there is no fake news. there is no witch hunt. mike flynn, a high-ranking member of the trump administration, in charge of our national security, has now come in and admitted that the allegations are, in fact, true. so, the tone has changed for the investigation, the perspective has changed and my belief is probably that right now, that's why people in the white house are -- have white knuckles as they grab on to the desk and watch the news of mike flynn's guilty plea today. >> let's find out. let's get more reaction of what we're hearing from folks around the president right now. let's get over to white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, has more reaction coming in from the white house? jim? >> that's right, kate. we do have that statement from ty cobb the white house attorney that just came in a few moments ago, basically and i think you addressed this earlier, that they feel that these false statements, that michael flynn is admitting to, really just
pertain to him. now, obviously, that as your guest was just saying a few moments ago, that is not exactly the case. the president of the united states has told reporters repeatedly that the russia investigation is fake news, that there were no contacts between his campaign and his associates and the russians. we now know all of that to be false. and in this ty cobb statement it goes on to say that they believe that michael flynn's cooperation will somehow lead to a speedy conclusion or a swift conclusion to all of this. i was talking to a source close to the white house earlier this morning who advises this white house on strategy, communication strategy, and this person was saying that this is not good for this white house. somebody who usually offers a lot of fresh spin in terms of white house activities over here, kate, this person was being pretty blunt, that this is not good, that this really is to be determined in terms of what happens next with the russia collusion investigation, but
this person was also trying to make the point and i think that's why you're seeing some of this creeping into the white house statement here, they're trying to make the point that this is michael flynn's poor judgment here, it was the words used by this one particular source, they feel that that does not paint the rest of the white house in the same fashion. but make no mistake, if michael flynn is cooperating with investigators saying that he was directed by trump transition officials to make contacts with the russians, that, obviously, involves more people than just michael flynn an this investigation is going to drag on. >> jim, i'm looking for the exact wording that came out from inside the courtroom, one thing that did come out was that in this plea agreement, michael flynn made clear that the officials directed his contacts with russian officials and that he also then reported back to transition, unnamed
transition officials about the contacts while it was ongoing. there seems to be questions of who the transition officials would be of course. also that seems to contradict what ty cobb is going after that this is michael flynn alone. >> to try to make the case that this is isolated to michael flynn is not going to work anymore. if michael flynn is telling federal investigators that trump transition officials were directing him during that transition period, keep in mind there are other legal implications with all of this. the u.s. government operates one administration at a time. it would have been the obama administration that would have been in contact with the russians with a government propriety standpoint when it comes to dealing with the russia sanctions. apparently that was what michael flynn was lying about. about these sanctions imposed on russia after the election in response to russian meddling in
the 2016 election. michael flynn is an adviser or was an adviser to the president-elect and not his job to mitigate the sanctions during the transition period. after january 20th, sure. that is part of his responsibilities. that is why the special counsel's office is looking at all of this. there are propriety issues that michael flynn should not have been conducting that business with the russians before they were sworn into office. my guess is that there are other trump transition officials that will be asked about this. i was talking to somebody before going on the air who was saying and this might be a cover that you hear later from other people here at the white house that yes, michael flynn might have been directed to talk to the russians and various officials were directed to talk to people from different governments during that period to start making contacts with foreign governments as the trump team
was coming into office. you may hear that argument as it moves forward. >> we directed them to talk. we didn't direct them to cut a deal. i see what you are saying. >> big distinction. >> and an important one. how this plays out is an important distinction to make. thank you, jim. we will be getting back to you. as jim was mentioning, this was playing out and the conversations were playing out during the obama administration during the transition. we will get reaction after the break from a former obama official to this breaking news. the approximate the's former national security adviser michael flynn pleading guilty in federal court moments ago and acknowledging he is upon cooperating now with bob mueller's special counsel looking into collusion with russians and the trump campaign. that investigation and much more on the breaking news after this.
>> breaking news we are following moments ago. michael flynn left the federal courthouse in washington, d.c. the president's former national security adviser pleading guilty to lying to the fbi about conversations he had with then russian ambassador to the united states and also in court acknowledging he is cooperating with the special counsel's investigation. joining me now for more reaction, david axelrod who was the senior adviser to president obama. also the host of the ax files. i want to get your reaction. all this is playing out this morning. >> well, i have several. one is to see michael flynn who just 10 months ago was national security adviser walk into that courthouse surrounded by his lawyers and plead guilty was a
sobering thing. it was also a testimony to the fact that we are a nation of laws and not of men. that's something that the president seems not to fully grasp at times. it is reassuring that there is a system of laws and nobody is above them. it was a sobering moment, but on the other hand an inspiring moment to know that the system does work in that way. in terms of my other reaction, it was widely reported at the beginning during the transition that president obama had counseled president-elect trump not to appoint michael flynn as national security adviser. i don't know what president obama was privy to, but clearly he was privy to intel and it skrept into the advice he gave president trump. it was very good advice. >> the context is important and i want to get your take on it.
he pled guilty and the russian response to sanctions imposed when president obama was in place. also on the russian response to un security counsel vote with regard to israel. this all during the transition when the president was president obama. as a former obama official, what do you say? >> not just as a former obama official, but i was with him during the transition. and it's against the law to pursue your own foreign policy in the transition when there is a sitting president. this is a serious thing. >> you actually supposed something interesting. gloria asked this question. would he be free lansing in the conversations and would he be directed? >> no. >> in court, they say he was directed by the transition to
have these conversations. the white house's reaction is -- go ahead. >> there was another subject which was the un resolution relative to israel, something jared kushner was deeply involved in that may explain why he was called in. it is inconceivable that michael flynn who has grown up in the military went and did these things without some instruction from others. from people above him. i'm sure that this is a major subject of discussion between him and the special counsel and one that must be of great concern to the white house right now. >> when ty cobb and the lawyer said nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than mr. flynn, what do you think is going on in the white house right now. ? >> he is technically right, but michael flynn pled guilty with an understanding he had with the
special counsel. the white house knows and the president and the people around him know what michael flynn knows. so i'm sure that there are deep concerns and some intensive discussions going on right now. >> to say the very least. it's great to see you. i want to make sure our viewers know that tomorrow there is an important episode of the ax files. inside politics with john king starts now. welcome to inside politics. i'm john king. major breaking news on the special counsel investigation into russian meddling. the fired national security adviser michael flynn cut a deal, a plea agreement in federal court in washington, d.c. pleading guilty to lying