Former US national security adviser ‘says Trump directed him to make contact with Russia’.

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Former US national security adviser Michael Flynn is reportedly prepared to testify that President Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russians when he was a presidential candidate.

Reuters could not immediately verify the ABC news report, which cited a Flynn confidant. The news sent US stocks sharply lower.

Flynn, a former top Trump campaign aide and a central figure in a federal investigation into Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI.

The White House said the plea implicates Flynn alone.

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“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” said Ty Cobb, a White House attorney, adding that the plea “clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion” of the Office of the Special Counsel’s probe.

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Federal prosecutors also said Flynn had been directed by “a very senior member” of Trump’s transition team regarding a December 2016 United Nations vote.

Flynn also filed materially false statements and omissions in his March 7, 2017, foreign agent filing over his company’s work with the Turkish government, according to prosecutors.

His plea agreement, and his decision to cooperate with the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, marked a major escalation in a probe that has dogged Trump’s administration since the Republican president took office in January.

Flynn acknowledged making false statements about contacts he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, last year. The charges carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Flynn was fired from his White House post in February for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the ambassador.

Moscow has denied a conclusion by US intelligence agencies that it meddled in the election campaign to try to sway the vote in Trump’s favour. Trump has denied any collusion by his campaign.

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