Mueller Recommends No Prison Time For Ex-Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Citing 'Substantial Assistance'
Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Trump, should be spared any jail time because he has provided “substantial assistance” in the investigation into Russian election interference, special counsel Robert Mueller said late Tuesday.
In a long-awaited sentencing memo, Mueller argued Flynn should remain a free man because he has provided crucial cooperation over the course of 19 interviews with investigators since pleading guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kremlin officials during the presidential transition.
Flynn has also assisted the Justice Department with at least two other confidential criminal investigations, in addition to Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 election, the special counsel said.
Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.
A majority of the memo was redacted because it contains “sensitive information,” Mueller said.
In particular, Mueller commended Flynn on the “timeliness” of his cooperation, and suggested his guilty plea likely influenced other witnesses to be forthcoming.
“The defendant began providing information to the government not long after the government first sought his cooperation,” Mueller’s team said in the filing. “His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation.”
Flynn became the first and only White House official ensnared in Mueller’s probe when he copped a plea deal with the special counsel in December 2017 amid revelations he had misled FBI agents about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the U.S.
The 59-year-old Army veteran and ex-director of the Defense Intelligence Agency admitted he had talked to Kislyak in December 2016 about the possibility of easing sanctions on the Kremlin while a member of Trump’s transition team.
Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak were part of a coordinated effort by transition leaders to rewrite foreign policy before Trump officially took power, according to the special counsel’s office.
Mueller said in the Tuesday filing that Flynn shed crucial light on “the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.”
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s top attorney in the Mueller probe, said the case amounted to nothing more than “spitting on the sidewalk.”
“This is the best evidence they have no evidence of any collusion,” Giuliani said in a text message to the Daily News. “It’s a disgrace.”
Flynn, who abruptly resigned as national security adviser after his Kislyak contacts first came to light in February 2017, has a long list of peculiar connections to the Kremlin.
In 2013, while serving as DIA director, Flynn became the first U.S. official to ever visit the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s military intelligence agency GRU and, about a year before joining Trump’s 2016 campaign, he was seated next to President Vladimir Putin at a gala dinner in the Russian capital hosted by government-owned media outlet RT.
Since pleading guilty, however, Flynn has stayed out of the spotlight, making few public appearances, save for stumping for a handful of right-wing congressional candidates and praising the Trump administration on radio broadcasts.
As part of his multifaceted investigation, Mueller is looking into whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to pressure former FBI Director James Comey to shut down an early inquiry into Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak.
“He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey in an infamous Oval Office meeting in February 2017, according to congressional testimony by Comey.
A few months after that sit down, Trump fired Comey, setting into motion a chain of events that resulted in Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.
Mueller’s long-awaited sentencing memo on Flynn comes at a pivotal time for Mueller’s investigation.
Having already indicted or sealed plea agreements with nearly 40 Russians and Trump associates, some recent reporting and court activity indicates Mueller is prepping to wrap up his historic investigation.
Mueller’s office confirmed Monday it will publicly release a sentencing memo later this week outlining how criminally convicted ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly lied to investigators after cutting a cooperation agreement in September.
The open release of the Manafort memo, due to be dropped Friday, suggests Mueller is not concerned about keeping information confidential for additional indictments.
Also Friday, Mueller is expected to put out a sentencing memo for Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal fixer who pleaded guilty last week to lying to lawmakers about his contacts with Kremlin officials about a plan to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 campaign. Cohen said he lied to protect Trump and his campaign.
Separately, Mueller’s office has informed congressional committees they would not at this point interfere with his inquiry if they start issuing new subpoenas for testimony about Trump and his various connections to the Kremlin, according to reports. ___
This article is written by Chris Sommerfeldt from New York Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.