Washington – Sen. Richard Blumenthal said on Friday that special counsel Robert Mueller has “breached the White House gates” with his prosecution of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador.
Shortly after Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday, ABC News reported that Flynn is s expected to testify that President Donald Trump instructed him to contact Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
“Michael Flynn’s admission of criminal guilt is shattering for the Trump presidency. Clearly, Flynn is cooperating – and he must continue to cooperate completely and candidly if he hopes to avoid even more serious criminal convictions,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
The Democratic senator, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that is conducting a separate investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections, said, “The special counsel has breached the White House gates, reaching one of the president’s most trusted confidants and unmistakably implicating other top officials.”
“The exact charge sends a bombshell signal: it’s about the Russians,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal also said the Senate Judiciary Committee “must pursue its investigation with new urgency,” and that Congress should approve a bill he has co-sponsored that would protect Mueller from being fired by the White House.
Blumenthal on Thursday sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking whether Flynn had disclosed that he had been offered $15 million to devise a scheme to return a Turkish exile to Turkey, where he would face political prosecution. The Turkish offer was recently reported in the Wall Street Journal.
Blumenthal also told Pence that “equally troubling” is a Washington Post story that said Flynn used his position in the White House “to back business deals with China and Russia that were backed by former clients.”
Blumenthal asked the vice president for all information and documents related to Flynn’s activities, including possibly pressuring the Justice Department to drop charges against a Turkish businessman who violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, “because as chairman of the Trump transition team, you were responsible for overseeing Flynn.”
Blumenthal also wrote to the former clients – IP3 and ACU Strategic Partners – Flynn reportedly advocated for while on the transition team and at the White House.
Flynn on Friday released a statement saying he is cooperating with Mueller’s office because it’s in the “best interests of my family and of our country.”
White House lawyer Ty Cobb downplayed Flynn’s plea by saying he wasn’t national security adviser for very long, and he was an “Obama administration official.”
Former President Barack Obama had fired Flynn from his job as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and had warned Trump not to hire him.