News that former national security adviser Michael Flynn planned to plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI Friday got Washington buzzing. But despite the questions it raises about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, Flynn’s deception was anything but unique.
Several major political figures, including some tied to the Trump administration, have admitted to lying to the FBI in the past few years. And in doing so, they might have avoided serious repercussions.
According to 18 U.S.C. § 1001, it is a federal crime for anyone “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully … [to make] any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation.” Do so and you could face five years in jail.
That law has been used to take down some very famous names, including Martha Stewart, Bernie Madoff, and Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling
Still, there’s a long history of trying to keep secrets from federal agents. Here are a few others who have tried to lie to the FBI, only to change their tune.
George Papadopoulos – The former foreign policy advisor to Trump pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in October and is reportedly cooperating with investigators looking into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Henry Cisneros – The former housing secretary pleaded guilty in 1999 to lying to the FBI about money he paid a former mistress, capping off a four-year investigation. He dodged jail, but did have to pay a $10,000 fine.
Marine Gen. James Cartwright – Once the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Cartwright, a four-star general, pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in 2016, admitting he was the source of a leak to the New York Times and Newsweek about U.S. efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
David Petraeus – The former CIA director was never formally charged with lying to the FBI, opting for a plea deal that skirted that accusation, but in 2016, then-FBI director James Comey said under oath that Petraeus knew he had top secret information and lied to the FBI about it.
Scooter Libby – Once the chief of staff for vice president Dick Cheney, Libby was found guilty by a jury on four felony counts of making false statements to the FBI and other charges. The case revolved around the leak of CIA operations officer Valerie Plame’s identity.