Mueller removes Federal Bureau of Investigation agent from Russian Federation probe for anti-Trump messages

Senate Judiciary member Sen. Sen. Dianne Feinstein questions Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey during an oversight hearing on the FBI on Capitol Hill

Mr Flynn was the first member of Trump's administration to plead guilty to a crime uncovered by special counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 United States presidential election and possible collusion by Trump aides.

The filings from Flynn's plea hearing Friday say a "very senior member" of Trump's transition team asked Flynn to contact officials from UN Security Council countries, including Russian Federation, to learn where each country stood on the vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity and "to influence those governments to delay the vote or defeat the resolution".

But a former Obama administration Justice Department official, Matthew Miller, said Mr Trump's tweeted response may have "admitted to obstruction of justice". "Are you ADMITTING you knew Flynn had lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation when you asked Comey to back off Flynn?"

At the time, Pence said Trump was justified in firing Flynn because Flynn had lied to him.

The special counsel examining alleged Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election removed a top FBI investigator from his team for exchanging text messages with a colleague that expressed anti-Trump views, two US newspapers reported on Saturday.

The president had previously maintained that he fired Flynn in February for lying to Pence.

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"Comey wrote in his opening testimony that Trump said: "'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. No collusion. There's been absolutely, absolutely no collusion, so we're very happy.

Flynn also admitted that he spoke with another member of the transition team before he talked to Kislyak about US sanctions on December 29, court records say. At that time, Trump, however, did not give any definitive answer to the question of whether he would stand by his former advisor.

In her testimony in May, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates said she alerted the White House in January that Flynn could be "essentially blackmailed by the Russians".

Trump has been publicly dismissive of Comey and of special counsel Robert Mueller's continuing investigation, and was often generous in his appraisal of Flynn, except to say his adviser could not stay on the job after misleading his vice president. Trump adds, "There was nothing to hide!"

Before departing the White House on Saturday, Trump repeated to reporters that there was "no collusion" between his campaign and Russian officials or representatives, though he did not elaborate on that claim.

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