So according to special counsel Robert Mueller, the type and amount of help his team has received from former national security adviser, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, is such that his sentence should be little to no jail time.
That was the overall gist of the sentencing paperwork that was submitted to the courts. The exact wording listed his “substantial assistance.”
The question now becomes, “What makes up substantial assistance?”
That’s where things get a bit trickier. Large portions of the court filing, or what was released to the public, were heavily redacted.
In a court filing released late Tuesday, Mueller said it would be “appropriate” for the judge to impose a sentence for Flynn that does not include prison time. Federal sentencing guidelines called for Flynn to be sentenced to between zero and six months in prison and face up to a $9,500 fine.
“The offense level and guideline range, however, do not account for a downward departure pursuant to Section 5K1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines reflecting the defendants substantial assistance to the government, which the government has moved for contemporaneously,” Mueller’s prosecutors wrote in a filing on Tuesday, referring to a motion that a prosecutor files in a case where a cooperating defendant rises to the level of “substantial assistance.”
This particular filing has been a year in coming. It was announced on December 1, 2017 that Flynn had agreed to plead guilty to a single count of lying to FBI agents and the Justice Department, as well as to cooperate with special counsel in the ongoing probe into Russian activities in the 2016 election.
Flynn worked as part of Donald Trump’s campaign team, then later with the transition team, before being named as the new president’s national security adviser, against the recommendations of members of the Justice Department, who were aware of some of Flynn’s connections with foreign governments.
His role with the new administration lasted about three weeks, before the full weight of his foreign lobbying and own connections to Russia brought him down.
Flynn in November 2016 wrote an op-ed for The Hill in which he defended Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid growing concerns over Erdogan’s crackdown on dissidents.
Flynn went on to serve a brief stint as national security adviser but was forced to resign on Feb. 13, 2017, following revelations that he discussed sanctions with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and that the Justice Department had warned the White House that he was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.
Flynn wrote in his resignation letter that he provided Vice President Pence with “incomplete information” regarding his phone calls with Kislyak, which had led Pence to go on national television and deny that the two discussed sanctions on Russia in conversations during the presidential transition.
Because Flynn had misled the vice president, Trump begrudgingly let him go, and brought in H.R. McMaster to take his place.
At this point, we have no idea how valuable or possibly even bland the information shared with Mueller’s team may have been. What we do know is that Robert Mueller has repeatedly, over the past year, sought delays in turning in the court filing for sentencing regarding Michael Flynn. Each time, the reason given was because they were not finished with him.
He was spilling, big time.
Mueller’s prosecutors described Flynn in the filing as a valuable cooperator in the Russia investigation as well as an unknown criminal investigation and a third matter, the subject and details of which are completely redacted. Flynn sat for 19 interviews with the special counsel’s office and other Justice Department prosecutors over the course of nearly a year, in addition to providing documents and communications, according to the filing.
Prosecutors wrote that Flynn helped on a “range of issues” related to the Russia probe, including providing “firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the [Trump] transition team and Russian government officials.”
Flynn’s sentencing is set for December 18. This filing marks the completion of his cooperation agreement.
He can still be called to testify, and his testimony may open up new avenues of implication against other defendants, but he has done his duty.
Meanwhile, Mueller is set to make what some are speculating could be “significant filings” against former Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, and Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, later this week.
That should be interesting, given what we already know about Cohen’s extensive cooperation, as well as Manafort’s attempts to mislead Mueller’s team, after signing a cooperation agreement.