Donald Trump with Michael Flynn during the 2016 campaign
Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s senior campaign aide and first National Security Advisor, should receive little or no prison time as a “key cooperator” with the Trump-Russia investigation, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to federal investigators. He had resigned in February 2017, after only 24 days as National Security Advisor, because of the claims.
The former three-star general and head of the Defense Intelligence Agency lied over his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, including a December 2016 conversation — before Trump took office — which discussed the removal of the Obama Administration’s sanctions on Moscow.
But, with the assurance of cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Flynn’s charges were reduced to one felony count carrying a prison sentence of up to five years. He sat for 19 interviews with Mueller’s office and other prosecutors and handed over documents and communications.
Prosecutors wrote in a heavily-redacted sentencing recommendation memorandum, “His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and first-hand insight” into Russia’s election interference and possible conspiracy with Trump associates.
They added, “The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming,” and summarized, “The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government.”
Prosecutors said Flynn’s military service of more than 33 years should be taken into account when he is sentenced on December 18.
Donald Trump risked obstruction of justice by asking FBI Director James Comey to halt any investigation of Flynn. Trump subsequently fired Comey in May 2017, in a failed attempt to halt the Russia inquiry.
Manafort and Cohen to Follow
Later this week, Mueller’s prosecutors will explain to a court how Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort has violated a plea agreement on ten charges, and they will define the extent of cooperation with Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who has used his plea bargain to claim Trump’s criminal involvement, in payoffs to two women alleging sexual encounters, and the pursuit up to June 2016 of a Trump Tower in Moscow.
Trump advisor Roger Stone said on Tuesday that he has invoked his 5th Amendment rights, in response to a request from Democratic investigators for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hand over documents and testimony.
Stone is suspected of involvement with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to disseminate material, obtained in computer hacks by Russian military intelligence, damaging to Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump Team: Nothing to See Here
Facing the extent of Cohen’s cooperation with Mueller, and the latest revelations from the Manafort and Cohen cases, Donald Trump’s team quickly whipped up a media campaign that there was no significance.
Trump’s lawyer/spokesman Rudy Giuliani blustered, “This is what we get for $30 million and two years of an investigation and no evidence of collusion, and we get a process charge?”
He continued with insults and the allegation of a political conspiracy, “They are sick puppies. This whole thing started as an orchestrated attempt to take the president out of office as an insurance policy.”
Pro-Trump Fox posts three articles on its site this morning, featuring Giuliani’s comments and those of Rep. Matt Gaetz, “This whole thing is a joke.”