A source closed to President Donald Trump said the latest developments surrounding his former national security advisor Michael Flynn are "very, very, very bad," according to NBC News.
He is the first official who worked in the Trump White House to make a guilty plea in a wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into possible co-ordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
Flynn is scheduled to plea guilty at a hearing later on Friday, 1 December.
This is a developing story - check back for updates.
As part of Flynn's plea deal he agreed to "cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" with the special counsel's office.
Because the Obama administration had expelled 35 Russian diplomats that same day to retaliate against Moscow's meddling in the 2016 campaign, my column posed the basic question: "What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the USA sanctions?" This follows the guilty plea of a Trump campaign aide; charges against a Trump campaign manager; and charges against a key aide to the Trump campaign and transition.
Flynn is the fourth former Trump associate to face charges in the investigation, the first who actually served in Trump's White House.
Flynn will say that Trump "directed him to make contact with the Russians", flatly contradicting Trump's claim that he had nothing to do with Russia before or after his surprise election.
The sanctions were ordered in response to "aggressive harassment of USA officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election", Obama said in a statement on December 29, 2016.
Previous reports have purported that Flynn spoke with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak shortly after President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia.
Flynn's catastrophic mistake was that he lied about the December 29 calls, first in denials to Trump spokesmen that were shared with me and other reporters on January 12, then to Vice President Pence and, most important, to Federal Bureau of Investigation officials who interviewed him on January 24.
A lawyer for Flynn informs Trump's lawyers that they can no longer share information with the White House.
Flynn and the official discussed that the transition team did not want Russian Federation to escalate the situation, according to the filings, and Flynn called Kislyak immediately after his conversation with the transition official to request that "Russia not escalate the situation and only respond to the United States sanctions in a reciprocal manner".
He also promised to cooperate with Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Russian Federation.
Flynn didn't speak in court, other than to say he would plead guilty. In the first statement Flynn made on December 29, 2016, Flynn denied making a request to a Russian ambassador to "refrain from escalating the situation" after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia and Flynn denied recalling that the Russian ambassador then stated they will "moderate" their response due the the request.
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.
The same day, George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor who had sought to arrange a pre-election meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to investigators in a deal that made clear he too was cooperating in their investigation.