Transcript for Trump's former national security adviser pleads guilty
This is an ABC news special. George Stephanopoulos. Good morning we are coming on the air with major news in the Russian investigation president trumps former national security advisor Michael -- newseum entry in the courthouse in Washington DC. Just moments ago. Has pleaded guilty guilty to charting giving false statements to the FBI. I would suggest he is now cooperating with a special counsel Robert Harlan goes straight to our senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas in Washington the latest good morning Pierre. George cried fall from grace a former three star general former national security advisor a man who'd been in the military 33 years pleading guilty. Looked. Fingerprinted and charged by the FBI now admitting that he lied to the FBI about his contact with the former Russian ambassador concerning. Sanctions that were being pose by the Obama administration and locked in regard to the Russians attacking. The 2016 election George he. Told the FBI that he didn't recall certain things in the the FBI had information that he actually had had this conversation. Now he's pled guilty George. Facing up to five years in it and get let's walk. Through the time my brain right there the conversations occurred in December 2016. After president trumpet one during the transition. When general films slated to being ask you guys are here to conversations. With the Russian ambassador kissling back in December late December 2016. After President Obama. And impose sanctions and retaliation for the Russian interference in our elections suggestion here is there are discussion but using those sanctions we know now. That Flinn lied about this conversations the FBI once he was indeed ass security advisor. Exactly George is just days into the administration's top administration new administration and the FBI concept plan and ask them about. This conversation. Wit the Russian ambassador and the FBI's stated that he lied to them and today. Glenn is pleading guilty to doing just that to what arena chief White House correspondent John Karl for more on this is well again let's stick with that timeline in December and January. 2016 after these conversations the White House said they didn't occur. In the way that was being reported. Remember that the acting attorney general could time Sally Yates who has been president Obama's appointee warned the White House. Based on the surveillance of Michael Flynn that he had been compromised in these conversations. And remember what this was this was December 29 which was the day that the Obama administration. Expelled a long list of Russian diplomats and imposed sanctions on Russia for interfering with the election. And then we learned the flames spoke on that day just hours after that happened to the Russian ambassador what the White House told us when the news broke. Was it they didn't discuss the sanctions. Was unbelievable man and now it turns out not to be true and then flee in. Lied about that to the vice president to Mike Pence the vice president. And when he was ultimately fired because of that lied now we learned that he said that saved lie under oath but to these FBI. Invest any job with George that would let me go because I think what else happened in January and every which is significant is that at that time after selling its gives the warning to the white Ashis fire. By president tried we know then the general Flynn is fired as well by president trump once the lie is revealed. And that according to James call me the president asked the FBI director at the time to go easy on Flynn. Exactly and George to me the big question now. Is why was this indictment so narrow he's only. Pleading guilty he's only charged with lying about that conversation. But we also have learned. That he burned more than 500000. Dollars in a separate so this is separate issue 500000. Dollars. Vote for lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government that he did not disclose. He did not disclose that is another thing that he was vulnerable legally we also know that his son Michael Flynn junior. Was being questioned by the special counsel no charge of Michael Flinn junior so really George the question here is. Did he agree to testify on something else. In exchange for what is a rather narrow indictment here on a single lie one count of lying to the F. Beyond our brain that questioner chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross is also joining us. Right now Brian is certainly would seem to suggest that Michael Flynn had a fair amount of information to offer special counsel in return. That's what George he has promised full cooperation to the mower team he's prepared to testify we're told by confident against president trump. Against members of from family and others in the White House he's prepared testified that president trump as a candidate Donald Trump. Ordered him directed him to make contact her reluctance which contradicts all. Has said at this point as well we're told that. Flynn made the decision to cooperate only in the last 24 hours that he is distraught about the decision but feels he's doing the right thing for his country. He was facing huge legal bills of more than a million dollars and then he said that the finally he had to go ahead and do this for that reason. He sexson put his house on the market he's facing serious financial problems. And Jon Karl let's go back and on the importance of Michael Flynn right here we've Michael Flynn a chief. I foreign policy advisor to president drug candidate trump during the campaign had a relationship and with him going straight through even April 2000. Seventeen after he was fired. One of the reports we've seen as the president Truman Assam to stay strong. And that's in the big question will be what kind of direction was he getting. From present from during the campaign perhaps about any work. With the Russians what did Flint tell him about those conversations within bastards his -- act what did the president tell him about the FBI investigation. And remember George she was the first major national security figure to come on and support the trump campaign. Big speaker at the Republican Convention the third person named to the trump transition team very major role and in in filling out his national security team. This is this is a major figure. Ends. In and and the question is going to be exactly what's what he told the president the president actually had recommended if you remember this. He actually said that Flynn should demand immunity. Before testifying before congress so one question that had been asked here many times and never emphatically denied is what the president considering issue issuing up. Pardon of Michael Flynn had a never happen and of course we've had no response yet from the president want to bring in our chief legal analyst Danny loses joining us by the phone. As well did Dan Annan reminded that several months ago flames lawyer in talking about a possible immunity deal said he has a story to tell. Absolutely look this beat them a really big deal. Because it comes back to the president and he here's what I mean meeting we've talked about the fact that whole metaphor is now charged and that the response to that is well that's just related to bad. That's just related to its finest. Even the plead George Stephanopoulos. When you actually look at the deet tails there it's the potential implication of campaign eighty. It's not a the president himself. And yet that's what makes this different. The possibility. That wind it may be able to link. Something to the president himself. Makes this of very well different kind of. We're that's what I wanted to ask you got your familiar prosecutions your failure familiar with the Robert Mueller you're familiar with how he's worked in the past. It is say do not us and not a leap at all to conclude that he would not have reached an agreement. We general Flynn and less general Flynn could provide. A significant information about people higher up. In the food chain in the general Flynn that would imply the president the vice president perhaps the attorney general members of president trumps family. Right we we don't know exactly who but absolutely immediate the question that the Jon Karl at the minute ago which is why the limited right we're talking about two. Relatively. Small why and I think small in the context that this whole investigation. So why wouldn't plea to just those two because they're small so bad in exchange for that. They can get its pull it unless it open testimony. And accounting and help. With regard to much bigger fish you're that is a classic move by prosecutors in any case not just a case like this. We try to get someone to plead to something smaller get them help you cooperate to get the potentially bigger fish. That seems like what we have here still if you're the president of the United States you are more nervous about this are more. They knew more about the cup but doubtless Orton and a fourth developed. One of the things Pierre Thomas a senior discourse when we would expect to learn. As we learn more about what kind of cooperation general fund is getting as we see perhaps in future indictments is what other kinds of contacts with the Russians he may have had we do know. That he appeared for pay in Russia in Moscow to give a speech and his group called Russia today and that Vladimir Putin was at that dinner. It absolutely Georgia we know that the military has been looking at that particular visit. And looking at whether that's in violation of some of the military. Guidelines as as opposed to which you can do and George. We know that the FBI has gone back and try to look at. Were there additional contacts between Flynn and the Russians during the campaign. They will get those answers as to whether that happened they won't try to find out if he who sought to get additional dirt. On Hillary Clinton which the question is sucked it could produce and put out over the Internet and they will be able to find out George if Flynn has more to say about who else he told. In the campaign if anyone about those kinds of contacts as we've been reporting general Michelson presents forming a security advisor has pleaded guilty. For lying to the FBI reached an agreement with the special counsel Robert Mueller want to bring our chief White House correspondent John Karl for more on that one thing that is very clear. Right now John all through the campaign all through Kansas and several times questions from you at the podium at the White House. Though this White House the president and his associates had denied any contact. With the Russians during the campaign we now know of at least thirty context. The combination of flames plea agreement between you're George popping up was blows those denials completely out of the war. It does now it's important point out that the conversations in question here happened during the transition. Not during the campaign itself. But George. We we heard from the president's personal lawyer simply that he is not concerned about this that this development this indictment. I would say that he they should be very concerned about this because this seems to me to be the tip of the iceberg again a very narrowed. Indictment. Off from somebody that was a key figure not just during the transition not just in the first. 24 days of the trump presidency but during that campaign and the question is as you have raised. What did he agree to testify to in exchange for this very narrow indictment. Shall we learn that did general claims lawyers had contacted lawyers for president trump just the night before Thanksgiving to say. There were no longer to be cooperating sharing information which would suggest of his deal. Was coming we haven't heard anything yet. From the White House today but what can you tell us about the mood around there since this word hit a couple of hours ago. Well George I can tell you they've the president's legal team and the president himself I am told. Learned about this through news reports they were not given a heads up. From the Flynn legal team for the reason you mentioned there were not given a heads up from the special counsel's office. So that there is you know clearly takes a state of anxiety here surrounding this despite the public posture review what they we've heard. Directly on the record for the legal team is they're not concerned and I tell you the vibe is. They are content and Brian Ross one of the big questions here is how much are we gonna learn about what kind of information general Flynn has given. To the special counsel as you reported just a minute ago he's promised full. Cooperation. We do likely. Learn about what kind of information has either. From the filing from the special counsel to the court as he did with George Papa topless or he has no obligation to do that he could just hold it. Until there are more indictments coming. It exactly right. According to confidence in general Flynn he feels he has been abandoned by president trump. And he is now prepared to testify fully about trump that he says the mr. trump directed him to be in contact with the Russians during the campaign. Directed him to be in good content with the Russians during the campaign do we know what those contacts were about. Initially they begin with context to deal with the ices cooperation Syria to do what vices and then it evolved beyond that. And George if you look at the timeline that you were discussing with the John and Pierre. He lied to the FBI on January 24. On January 26. Selling a C acting attorney general told the White House that Flynn had lied to the FBI. The very next day on January 27 the president out of the blue calls James call me into the White House for dinner and reportedly ask for his loyalty. As for his listing of course later on caused James coming again and finally Indy fires. The FBI director James Coleman right I want to bring may bring our chief legal analyst Danny was back in. I'm this we have heard repeatedly from the president's lawyers again that he is not. Under investigation. Hard to agree with that conclusion now. And and they wouldn't necessarily. Know I mean it did they talk sometimes that did. You know the way that this works these if the president were being investigated at all he would definitely know yet there are cases. Where the prosecutors. The F the other schools say you are you aren't the target of an investigation but the weak these things often happen it. Someone didn't get that early the quote target of the investigation but as he can add information comes in as they develop their case. Those targets change. And shift and there's no requirement. For them to say you serve whoever the person is. Are now being investigated more so the only people who are actually going to know. He's the president being investigated today. Our Robert Pollard he's. Pierre Thomas a senior discourse when we do know that recently special counsel Mueller did meet with Jared caution of the president's son in law and that. Mr. Kushner had how long would general Flynn had also met with a Russian ambassador earlier in December 2016. When they talked about a possible back channel of communication. That's right George that we we know from our reporting that a lot of the question it's a special counsel had four. The southern arkush very revolved around. General Flynn. And Georgia I want to go back to when things. And put this in context we're talking about the national security advisor. The president's chief advisor on national security. Having a communication with the Russian ambassador. And then when interviewed by the FBI choosing to mislead and lie about that that is something that is extraordinary. It is extraordinary again. President chums former excuse by you general Flynn general Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI he appears to be cooperating the special counsel Robert Mueller. No response yet from the White House no response from president shoppers administration we're gonna stand by. To see if that response comes moving up to date on all of the latest developments on George Stephanopoulos in New York. This has been a special. From EB.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.