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WASHINGTON (AP) – Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat.

In his plea, Flynn admits that Trump transition officials directed his contacts with the Russians.

It’s the first plea by any of the four former advisers to President Donald Trump charged so far in the wide-ranging investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Flynn has been under investigation for a wide range of allegations, including his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey, but the fact that he was charged only with a single count of making false statements suggests he is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation in exchange for leniency.

Court documents released Friday show Flynn has been charged with a single count of “willfully and knowingly” making false statements to the FBI on Jan. 24.

Prosecutors with Mueller’s office say Flynn falsely stated to the FBI that he had not discussed sanctions with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States.

Flynn is the fourth person charged in connection with Mueller’s investigation.

The expected guilty plea makes Flynn the first person to have actually worked in the Trump White House to face formal charges in the investigation, which is examining possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, White House lawyer Ty Cobb says, “Nothing” about Flynn’s guilty plea implicates anyone in the Trump White House.

Cobb said the “false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.”

Trump has previously referred to Flynn as a “wonderful man.”

Stocks veered sharply lower after Flynn’s plea.

Investors worried that the developments could spell trouble for the White House and its legislative agenda, including a massive tax overhaul that has been making progress in the Senate.

Small-company stocks, which would benefit the most from corporate tax cuts, fell far more than the rest of the market.

The Russell 2000 index plunged 2.2 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500, a broad measure of large companies, fell 28 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,619, erasing its gain from Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrials lost 237 points, or 1 percent, to 24,036.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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