WASHINGTON — FBI agents interviewed Michael T. Flynn when he was national security adviser in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, current and former officials said Tuesday.
The interview raises the stakes of what so far has been a political scandal that cost Flynn his job. If he was not entirely honest with the FBI, it could expose Flynn to a felony charge. President Donald Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation Monday night.
While it is not clear what he said in his FBI interview, Flynn maintained publicly for more than a week that his conversations with the ambassador were innocuous and did not involve Russian sanctions, something now known to be false.
Shortly after the FBI interview, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, told the White House that Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail because of inconsistencies between what he had said publicly and what intelligence officials knew to be true.
At issue is a conversation during the presidential transition in which Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about sanctions levied against Russia by the Obama administration. The call spurred an investigation by the FBI into whether Flynn had violated the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in disputes with the United States.
On Wednesday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said that Trump was made aware of the situation weeks ago. Spicer said the White House had reviewed the situation and determined that Flynn didn’t violate any laws during his call with the Russian ambassador.
Spicer said Flynn was asked to resign because he had lost the trust of the president and vice president.