WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is recommending that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn get a lesser sentence, including one that does not include jail time, citing his cooperation with the ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russian sources and the Trump campaign.
“Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range—including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration—is appropriate and warranted,” the federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed on Tuesday evening.
The document was highly anticipated across media outlets, as there had been speculation that it would lay out in detail the ways in which Flynn has cooperated, and perhaps provide further insight into the status of Mueller’s investigation.
But much of an attached memo on Flynn was redacted, with few specific details beyond saying that he had provided 19 interviews to the special counsel and the Justice Department. Media legal analysts spent Tuesday evening combing through some of the turns of phrase in the documents, including a line that “senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards.”
Flynn already has read guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI, having to do with the nature of his contacts with the Russian ambassador in late December, 2016, less than a month before Trump took office.
Mueller’s team wrote that Flynn has provided “firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.” But it also cited Flynn’s cooperation in an undisclosed criminal investigation.
Flynn’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 18.
“His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with longterm and first-time insight regarding events and issues under investigation by the” special counsel, Mueller’s team wrote. “Additionally, the defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the [special counsel] and cooperate.”
Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser on Feb. 13, 2017, after just a few weeks in his post, after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn had denied that he and Kislyak had discussed the Obama administration’s sanctions imposed on Russia, when in fact that topic was part of their conversation. Mueller’s sentencing memo also cites Flynn’s failure to disclose his work for the government of Turkey in documents he filed to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Media speculation has been that Mueller’s investigation is entering a new phase, or even wrapping up, but the sentencing memo merely said that the probe was ongoing. Further information could come on Friday, when Mueller’s team is expected to release a brief on Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. He reached a plea deal on fraud charges in September, but Mueller’s office claims that Manafort breached the agreement by lying in his interviews with prosecutors. The Manafort document is expected to outline the nature of Manafort’s falsehoods. Manafort’s attorneys deny claims that he breached the agreement.