Donald Trump’s former national security adviser has provided so much information to the FBI about the campaign’s interactions with Russian officials that he should avoid going to jail, according to Robert Mueller.
In a sentencing note filed with a court in Washington DC, the special counsel said former general Michael Flynn had provided “substantial” cooperation to investigators “concerning links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign”.
“His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government.”
The document adds: “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.”
As the special counsel’s investigation into what took place during the 2016 election campaign enters what some have termed the “end game”, there had been much anticipation as to what Mr Mueller might reveal about the cooperation of 60-year-old Flynn.
Given that Mr Mueller’s investigation has provided virtually no leaks of any measure, people have pored over such legal filings for a clue as to the amount of information the prosecutor has gathered since he was appointed in the summer of 2017, and where his investigation may be leading.
Later this week, prosecutors are due to provide new information about Mr Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort. Last Friday, the judge in Mr Manafort’s Washington case held a hearing to set a tentative sentencing date after prosecutors accused him of lying during the interviews that occurred after he agreed to plead guilty to financial crimes and cooperate.
Flynn served as Mr Trump’s national security adviser from 20 January to 13 February 2017, until he was told to quit after admitting lying to vice president Mike Pence and others about the nature of his conversations with Russian officials prior to Mr Trump assuming the presidency. His tenure of 24 days is believed to be the shortest of any national security adviser.
The filing by Mr Mueller, which provides the first real insight into Flynn’s cooperation with investigators probing Russia’s alleged interference, comes two weeks ahead of his scheduled sentencing. Last December, Flynn, who previously served as director of the Defence Intelligence Agency under Barack Obama, pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials, among them Russia’s former US ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The Associated Press said Mr Mueller’s filing noted that Flynn had participated in 19 interviews with prosecutors. Though officials withheld specific details of Flynn’s cooperation because of ongoing investigations, their filing underscored the breadth of how much information Mueller has obtained from people close to Mr Trump, it said.
The development will provide another headache for Mr Trump, who appears to be increasingly rattled and angry by the persistence of Mr Mueller and his team. The president has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia and described the investigation as a “witch hunt”.
This week, Mr Trump attacked his former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, saying he is making up “stories” to get a reduced prison sentence after his latest guilty plea to lying to Congress. The president also praised longtime confidante Roger Stone for saying he would “never testify against Trump,” adding in his tweet: “Nice to know some people still have ‘guts!’”
Some experts said Mr Trump’s tweets could have amounted to witness tampering.
It remains unclear if Mr Trump will now turn his rage on Flynn, whom the president grew close to during the 2016 campaign and tried to protect by asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation. That incident is among those under scrutiny by Mr Mueller as he probes whether Trump attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation.
There was no immediate comment from Mr Trump, the White House or Flynn’s lawyers to Mr Mueller’s legal filing.
CNN said the memo appeared to list at least three ongoing investigations being pursued by the Justice Department. Two criminal investigations were completely redacted, it said.
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