Trump's lawyer distances Flynn from the president

Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI about conversation with Russian ambassador.
3:00 | 12/01/17

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Transcript for Trump's lawyer distances Flynn from the president
tonight. Did the white house know that this was coming. Here's Jonathan Karl. Reporter: This was the only glimpse of president trump today before the television cameras. Ignoring questions about the indictment of his former national security advisor. Mr. President any comment on Michael Flynn being indicted, sir? Can you comment on Michael Flynn being indicted? Reporter: A few minutes later, the white house abruptly canceled a planned photo-op with the Libyan prime minister, avoiding questions altogether. The Flynn indictment cuts close to the president, he was most prominent former national security official advising the trump campaign and played a key role in the transition, taking part in president-elect trump's classified briefings before his vital role inside the white house. Today, the president's lawyer, sought to downplay Flynn's role, saying in a statement, "Today, Michael Flynn, a former national security advisor at the white house for 25 days during the trump administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn." Jon Karl with us from the white house. Jon, did the white house have any indication this guilty plea was coming down or were they taken by surprise with this? Reporter: Top officials at the white house, the president's legal team and the president himself, David, learned of this when they read it in the news. So the news of this indictment and more importantly, the news that Michael Flynn has agreed to cooperate fully came as a surprise today. Jon, thank you. How damaging could this development be for president trump himself? We know that Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador but many have pointed out don't all incoming presidents and their teams start to reach out to other countries during the transition? Let's get to Dan Abrams tonight. We get it. Lying to the FBI is no good. But many people have pointed out these transition teams reach out to other governments. So what is it about this conversation that's a problem? Part is the timing. President Obama had just issued sanctions against the Russians for meddling in the election and you have Flynn calling the Russians and saying please don't retaliate and then president trump saying oh, it's great that president Putin didn't retaliate. You could argue that's a technical violation of the Logan act which prevents a private citizen from intervening in foreign affairs but I think it's unlikely they're going to rest it on that. We both know the Logan act hasn't been successful. Were there any conversation for the Russians during the campaign? And was there any coordination that could be deemed to be criminal? Dan, thanks as always. One more question on this Michael Flynn pleaded guilty as part of this deal. It's believed he could have faced more but will cooperate will Robert Mueller. Let's go to Pierre Thomas live at the FBI. Flynn has been charged with the one count of lying to the FBI. Robert Mueller a seasoned prosecutor. Is he trying to show as little hand as possible? Reporter: David make no mistake, Mueller approved this deal to get something. He is an aggressive, cagey prosecutor who is now targeting the trump campaign, the transition and potentially the white house inner circle. Flynn now faces hours of FBI interrogations in the coming months, subject to lie detector tests along the way to prove he's telling the truth. Mueller wants to know, did other trump campaign officials and white house advisers know about any illegal contacts with the Russians? To impact the election. And David, those transition advisors mentioned in today's charges face the possibility of being called before grand jury. And if they have already been interviewed, they better have told the truth.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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