Special Counsel Robert Mueller recommended Tuesday night that former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn avoid prison time for lying to the FBI since he has offered “substantial assistance” on a number of ongoing investigations, including Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the presidential election and any potential coordination between the nation-state and members of the Trump transition team.
The sentencing memo posted by the Associated Press makes a case for letting Flynn skip jail time because the firsthand information he has provided has proven valuable and, in a heavily redacted addendum, provides the details of his cooperation.
Flynn pleaded guilty last year to “willfully and knowingly” making “materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations” to FBI investigators.
Flynn told agents he had not asked then Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, 2016 “to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the U.S. had imposed on Russia [for cyber interference in the U.S. presidential election] on that same day” and claimed to not remember that the ambassador told him Russia moderated its response because of his request.
A court filing by Mueller in December 2017 shows that Flynn also told agents he didn’t ask the ambassador to delay or defeat a vote on a United Nations Security Council resolution and claimed the ambassador never spoke to him about Russia’s response to that request.
Tuesday’s sentencing memo said he lied about those things and others on multiple occasions starting January 24, 2017, just days after President Trump took office. But once snared, Flynn quickly began to work with the special counsel and the memo outlined his cooperation, which included 19 interviews related to three ongoing investigations – a criminal probe, the Mueller investigation and another probe whose details remained concealed from public view.
The former National Security Adviser’s cooperation “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the special counsel office and cooperate,” the court documents said.
“The recommendation of no jail time for Flynn, apart from its obvious irony for the man who led chants of ‘lock her up,’ reflects both the timeliness and significance of his help,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted. “That most of the details are redacted signals he has given far more than we or the President may know.”