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Former Trump aide Flynn pleads guilty to lying about Russian Federation links

He turned

Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to a single count of making material false statements during an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on January 24 as part of a plea deal with Special Council Robert Mueller.

This is a developing story - check back for updates.

In a statement, Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general said he accepted responsibility for his actions and added: "My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country".

But having nailed Flynn - and gotten a plea agreement and Flynn's promise to cooperate with the investigation - the big question is whether Flynn can implicate President Trump, his campaign and his aides.

Say what you like about Flynn, but an ex-general follows the chain of command.

The split from the White House suggested to many that Flynn was about to start coorperating with the independent investigation headed by Robert Mueller. The prosecutors say that Flynn cleared his comments to Kislyak beforehand with an unnamed official who is described as "a senior official of the Presidential Transition Team" who was staying with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

The sanctions were ordered in response to "aggressive harassment of United States officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election", Obama said in a statement on December 29, 2016.

During the proceeding, Flynn also admitted in federal court to asking former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak not to retaliate for sanctions imposed by then-President Barack Obama - all under orders, Flynn said, from a "senior official" on the Trump transition.

Flynn has promised special counsel Robert Mueller his full cooperation as he pleads guilty to lying to the FBI, ABC News' Brian Ross reported on Friday. But I recognise that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right.

Flynn repeatedly denied that his conversations had included discussion of the sanctions and reportedly made the denials to other senior members of the administration - who then publically defended him.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb sought to distance the plea from Trump himself, saying, "Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn". But the most senior levels of the Trump transition team were aware, from the first, what really happened.

For Trump, the focus is on whether he has tried to stifle the investigation, including by firing FBI chief James Comey in May, which could draw charges of obstruction of justice, the same charges that forced president Richard Nixon from office in 1974.

At the center of this story is a mystery that will propel the rest of the inquiry: What was Trump so anxious about that it made him deny contacts with Russian Federation and denounce attempts to investigate those contacts?

Next, Flynn can tell Mueller what, if anything, he knows about the contacts between Russian Federation and a series of Trump officials in 2016, including meetings, emails, phone calls and trips involving Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Carter Page, Roger Stone and George Papadopoulos. Trump, who publicly fretted about his desire to have Mueller wrap up his investigation sooner rather than later, and who supposedly will "blow a gasket" if he isn't exonerated by year's end, will now watch as Mueller proceeds full steam ahead, bolstered by Flynn's input.