Special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday effectively recommended that Michael Flynn receive no prison time for lying to the FBI, citing the former national security advisor’s “substantial assistance” in the Russia probe and other Department of Justice (DOJ) cases.
“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 wrote in a court filing submitted Tuesday night.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, met with the special counsel’s office or other prosecutors in the DOJ 19 times since pleading guilty Dec. 1, 2017, the highly-anticipated court filing reveals.
Flynn acknowledged in the guilty plea to making false statements to the FBI about his conversations in December 2016 with Sergey Kislyak, who then served as Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
He admitted to falsely claiming in a Jan. 24, 2017, interview at the White House that in a Dec. 29, 2016, phone conversation with Kislyak, the topic of sanctions against the Russian government were not discussed.
Flynn also lied by denying that on Dec. 22, 2016, he asked Kislyak to delay a vote on a UN Security Council resolution related to Israel.
He will be sentenced in the case Dec. 18.
Mueller’s filing is redacted in key parts, allowing little insight into what information Flynn has provided prosecutors. But the document states that Flynn has provided “substantial assistance” to an investigation that appears to be separate from Mueller’s probe into possible collusion between the Russian government and Trump team.
Though the second investigation is not revealed, Mueller’s report does go into some detail about Flynn’s lobbying efforts for the Turkish government, though it does not state that an investigation is being conducted into those activities.
Flynn admitted in his plea agreement last year that he gave false statements regarding his work on behalf of the Turkish government. Flynn signed a $600,000 contract in August 2016 with a Turkish businessman linked to the Turkish government. As part of the work, Flynn wrote an op-ed for The Hill on Nov. 8, 2016 calling for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based imam who is critical of Turkey’s president.
Flynn falsely claimed that he wrote the op-ed on his own accord. He worked closely with his lobbying client, Ekim Alptekin, on the article, which was first exposed by The Daily Caller. Flynn’s guilty plea did not include charges for making false statements about his lobbying work, though his plea agreement precluded him from being charged with crimes related to his Turkish lobbying activity.
Flynn also provided “firsthand information” about “the content and context” of interactions between the Trump transition team and Russian government officials, Mueller’s team said. The nature of Flynn’s information is unclear because those sections of the Mueller filing are heavily redacted.
In addition to Flynn’s extensive cooperation, Mueller noted Flynn’s “exemplary” military record. But he also said that Flynn’s extensive government service “should have made him particularly aware of the harm caused by providing false information to the government, as well as the rules governing work performed on behalf of a foreign government.”
Prosecutors said that Flynn’s cooperation was useful largely because of the “timeliness” of it. The former Defense Intelligence Agency director began cooperating shortly after being approached by the special counsel, prosecutors revealed. Flynn’s early assistance likely influenced other firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming and cooperate with Mueller’s team.
Flynn will be the second Trump associate to be sentenced in the Mueller investigation. George Papadopoulos, a former campaign aide, was sentenced to 14 days in prison Sept. 7 for lying to the FBI about his contacts during the campaign with a Maltese professor he believed had links to the Russian government.