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Mueller Cites Flynn's 'Substantial Assistance' in Recommending No Prison Time for Him
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5 Dec 2018 02:10 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Michael Flynn (Image source: Public domain)

 

With all the talk regarding Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Jerome Cisco, and Michael Cohen, we nearly forgot about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. He resigned before Robert Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia probe.

 

Nevertheless,  the special counsel is so grateful to him for his contributions to the investigation, that he is recommending Flynn serve no prison time. 

The U.S. Army veteran was named Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration and was then named national security advisor to Donald Trump's administration but was only in the position for a matter of a few weeks.

 

Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence, along with FBI investigators, with regards to the communication he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. An investigation was launched after this information was learned, looking into whether he had accepted money from federal governments. 

He pleaded guilty to one felony count of lying to the FBI one year ago and promised he would cooperate with Mueller's investigation into the possible collusion between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign.

 

Flynn was part of a Trump Tower meting in December 2016. When Trump was the president-elect, Flynn attended a meeting along with Jared Kushner, who proposed that Kislyak set up a secret communications channel with the Kremlin, according to sources. 

Later Flynn met directly with Kislyak regarding several topics, as well as U.S. sanctions for Russia. He admitted he was in touch with senior Trump transition officials both before and after his communications with the ambassador.

 

After Flynn told Kislyak on December 29, that Trump didn't approve of the sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed and asked for Russia not to retaliate, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the following day his country would not retaliate for the sanctions. One day later Kislyak called Flynn to let him know they were honoring his request. 

"My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel's office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country," he said when he made his plea agreement, which is similar to one made by Cohen, who also took a plea deal and cooperated.

 

On Tuesday Mueller filed documents requesting that Flynn not serve any time in prison because of his "substantial assistance" with multiple ongoing investigations.  

While we know some of the content of other Trump aides' admissions to Mueller, we don't know anything that Flynn has copped to or reported. In fact, this is the first time his cooperation in the investigation has been mentioned since his guilty plea.

 

Tuesday's court filing didn't include any further information; however, as it was heavily redacted. Mueller did write that for the multiple ongoing investigations, Flynn participated in 19 interviews with federal prosecutors and also turned over documents and communications. 

Mueller added that the former national security advisor provided "firsthand information about the consent and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials." The details of those interactions were heavily redacted.

 

Prosecutors a year ago said they would likely be seeking a prison sentence between zero and six months for Flynn, and on Tuesday the special counsel's office again recommended limited time for Flynn, "including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration." 

To support his reasoning in looking for zero prison time, Mueller wrote that Flynn's early plea deal "likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the SCO and cooperate," adding that he was "one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation."

 

It remains unknown if Trump instructed Flynn to call the ambassador and why Flynn initially lied about his contacts with Russia. The White House legal team has indicated all along that Flynn's crimes didn't have anything to do with Trump. 

Prosecutors also asked the court on Tuesday to consider Flynn's "exemplary" public service when considering his sentence. "The defendant's record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged as part [of] the SCO's investigation," they wrote. "However, senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards."

 

Former FBI Director James Comey has said that after Flynn resigned, Trump hosted a dinner that Comey attended and asked the FBI director to show leniency when investigating Flynn. "I hope you can let this go," he allegedly said. 

Once Comey himself was fired in May, Trump at first indicated it was because of his handling of Hillary Clinton's email scandal, but Comey believes it was because he was continuing to pursue the Russia investigation.

 

When looking at the news from the past few weeks regarding Mueller and his investigation, it's hard not to notice that the special counsel it going to bat for those who cooperated, recommending little to no time, while those who aren't cooperating aren't nearly so lucky. 

It seems Mueller is sending a message to the many who are involved in the possible collusion and obstruction of justice. It's also becoming clearer and clearer that he has a much, much bigger target in mind.

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