Special Counsel Robert Mueller believes President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn should serve little to no jail time thanks to his "substantial" assistance with the Russia probe, according to sentencing memo released Tuesday nightFlynn sat for 19 interviews with Mueller’s investigators and other officials from the Department of Justice over the course of his cooperation, the special counsel’s office said in the memo.
"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," prosecutors wrote.Flynn, who worked on Trump’s campaign and transition team, has been cooperating with Mueller since pleading guilty in late 2017 to lying to investigators about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak weeks before Trump took office.The hotly-awaited documents featured significant redactions, suggesting the full details of Flynn’s cooperation will only be revealed later. The “investigations” Flynn has assisted with are still ongoing, Mueller’s office said.
“The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” the document said.Prosecutors stressed that Flynn’s cooperation at the opening stage in the investigation had a ripple effect that helped convince others to aid the investigation.“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 by the [special counsel’s office],” the document said. “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’s office] and cooperate.”
Flynn is scheduled to appear in a Washington, D.C., court for sentencing on December 18.
On Dec. 29, 2016, Flynn phoned Kislyak and asked him not to escalate a diplomatic dispute with the U.S. government just hours after then-President Barack Obama slapped new sanctions on Russia. Obama’s move was intended as punishment for the Kremlin’s attempt to tip the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.Shortly before he spoke with the Russian ambassador, Flynn had called a senior presidential transition official at Mar-a-Lago to discuss what to do about Russia and sanctions, he admitted in court last year.On that call, Flynn and the unnamed member of Trump’s circle discussed the fact “that the members of the Presidential Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago did not want Russia to escalate the situation,” a court filing submitted at the time of Flynn’s guilty plea said.Over the next two days, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia wouldn’t retaliate, and Kislyak phoned Flynn to say that decision was made in response to his request.After Putin’s announcement, Trump publicly congratulated “very smart” Putin on his “great move.”But weeks later, in January 2017, Flynn lied to FBI investigators about these conversations — setting in motion his eventual guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with Mueller’s investigators.Read Mueller's sentencing memo below.Cover image: Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump's incoming National Security Adviser, listens during the presidential inaugural Chairman's Global Dinner, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)