Here are the important dates detailing Michael Flynn’s relationship with Russia that led to his resignation.
WASHINGTON – Prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office released a highly anticipated memo Tuesday evening detailing the level of cooperation offered by Michael Flynn, the president’s former National Security Adviser.
The 13-page document goes through the allegations posed against Flynn, including his lies to the FBI about contacts with Russia during the presidential transition, and all the work Flynn has done behind-the-scenes to help Mueller’s investigators in the year since taking a plea deal.
Flynn, President Donald Trump’s pick as National Security Advisor, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.
The memo is the first in a series of developments expected over the coming weeks in Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the memo:
No jail time?
Mueller’s investigators recommended that Flynn receive no jail time and cited his “substantial assistance” in the year since he began cooperating with investigators.
Flynn, who memorably called for the jailing of Democrat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Republican convention, took a plea deal last December after being accused of lying to the FBI.
Flynn admitted lying about conversations he’d had with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions with Kislyak on Trump’s behalf during the presidential transition and said members of the president’s inner circle were aware of, and in some cases directing, his efforts, according to the plea.
Flynn had urged Kislyak not to respond to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in response to Russian election interference.
Flynn’s FBI interview occurred in January 2017, shortly after he took his post as national security adviser in the Trump White House. He was forced to resign in February 2017.
He also admitted that he lied to FBI agents about his work lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government. He later registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent due to the work.
But in the year since Flynn took a deal, Mueller’s team say he has provided a lot of help.
“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,” Mueller’s team said in the memo.
The request for no jail time appears to be something of a rarity as Mueller’s team hasn’t made a similar request for anyone charged in the investigation thus far.
His cooperation led to others helping Mueller
Michael Flynn was one of the earliest to take a deal with Mueller’s investigators and special counsel investigators say it may have helped ease others into cooperating.
“The defendant’s decision to plead guilty and cooperate likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the SCO (special counsel’s office) and cooperate,” Mueller’s team wrote in the memo.
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The filing states that Flynn helped “on a range of issues, including interactions between individuals in the presidential transition team and Russia.”
He offered “firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” Mueller’s team said in the document.
Much of the examples included in the memo are blacked out since investigations are ongoing.
Mueller’s team wrote in the filing that Flynn’s cooperation was “particularly valuable” given he was one of the few individuals with “longterm and firsthand” knowledge of events that the special counsel was investigating.
“The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government,” Mueller’s team wrote in the memo. “Shortly after the SCO (special counsel’s office) reached out to the defendant to seek his cooperation, the defendant accepted responsibility for his unlawful conduct and began cooperating with the government.”
Helping in ‘several ongoing investigations’
In arguing for a lower sentence for Flynn, investigators detailed the level of his assistance over the last year. That included his help on “several ongoing investigations,” the memo states.
It appears that Flynn has helped on at least three investigations, including the Russia probe.
The memo, which is partially redacted, says: “The defendant has assisted with several ongoing investigations: a criminal investigation [redacted], the special counsel’s office’s investigation concerning any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump, [redacted].”
The two redacted portions appear to point to two additional investigations, along with the Russia probe. It’s not clear whether the public is aware of these investigations or whether Mueller’s team simply wants to keep quiet about Flynn’s participation in them.
Since Mueller started investigating, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York have started several investigations surrounding Trump, his family and associates.
One investigation in New York led to Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty to multiple criminal charges and offering to help Mueller’s team.
19 interviews with investigators
Mueller’s team said in the memo that Flynn’s “substantial” help in the investigation has led to him sitting down with investigators on 19 separate occasions.
“As part of his assistance with these investigations, the defendants participated in 19 interviews with the SCO (special counsel’s office) or attorneys from other Department of Justice offices, provided documents and communications [redacted.]
The inclusion of Flynn meeting with prosecutors in other offices could point to the other investigations Mueller says Flynn has been helping on.
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn plead guilty in a Washington, D.C., court Friday to making false statements to the FBI. (Dec. 1)
Others who have cooperated with Mueller’s team have also had lengthy interviews.
Former White House counsel Don McGahn, who had incredible access to Trump and some of his most controversial dealings, opened up to special counsel Robert Mueller in a series of extensive interviews.
McGahn sat down with Mueller’s team for about 30 hours in total, a person familiar with McGahn’s contact with the special counsel’s office told USA TODAY. Trump said the cooperation was approved by the White House to show transparency.
Steve Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, has sat down with Mueller’s team for at least 20 hours, and Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign aide and business partner of Paul Manafort, continues to meet with Mueller’s investigators, his lawyer said in an October court filing.
But the 19 interviews show the depth in which investigators questioned Flynn and illustrate how much cooperation he offered.
Lots of redactions mean there’s more to come
The lack of information in the memo almost says more than what’s in the document.
Everything from the numerous investigations Flynn is helping with to what he’s told and given to investigators was blacked out, including nearly entire pages that were filled with black lines of redactions.
This tells us that there are still some aspects to the special counsel investigation that we don’t know yet.
Nearly half of the pages in the 13-page memo include blacked-out lines of information still under investigation in the special counsel probe.
Redactions were even made after listing the amount of interviews and the documents Flynn has handed over to federal authorities. Investigators also redacted some of the topics on the Russia investigation that Flynn has helped on.
For months, it’s been reported that Mueller’s investigation is nearly its end. Its conclusion could bring more answers, so we’ll all just have to wait and see.