WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday there was “absolutely no collusion” between his campaign and Russia, his first comment on a guilty plea by his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“What has been shown is no collusion, no collusion,“ Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for fund-raising events in New York. ”There’s been absolutely no collusion, so we’re very happy.”
Flynn was the first member of Trump’s administration to plead guilty to a crime uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion by Trump aides.
As part of his plea on Friday, Flynn agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
The retired U.S. Army lieutenant general admitted in a Washington court that he lied to FBI investigators about his discussions last December with Russia’s then-ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.
In what appeared to be moves undermining the policies of outgoing President Barack Obama, the pair discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia, and Flynn asked Kislyak to help delay a United Nations vote seen as damaging to Israel, according to prosecutors.
Flynn also was told by a “very senior member” of Trump’s transition team to contact Russia and other foreign governments to try to influence them ahead of the vote, the prosecutors said.
Sources told Reuters the “very senior” transition official was Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor. Kushner’s lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Flynn, a former Defense Intelligence Agency director, only held his position as Trump’s national security adviser for 24 days. He was forced to resign after he was found to have misled Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with Kislyak.
Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Writing by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn