In a long-awaited, enormous news burst, the Russia probe special counsel, Robert S. Mueller, on Tuesday, released documents commending Michael Flynn for his “substantial assistance” in three ongoing investigations.
Mueller wrote to the sentencing judge that Flynn’s information — gathered in 19 interviews — was so expansive, that he might be considered for a sentence that could be as short as zero prison time.
Mueller wrote that Flynn’s guilty plea “likely affected the decisions of related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with the SCO (special counsel) and cooperate.”
Flynn, a former three-star general, pleaded guilty in December 2017, to one felony count of making a false statement to the FBI.
In February 2017, he was forced out of his post as national security adviser after the White House said he misled administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, at the time.
The documents were heavily redacted, causing many Americans to wonder what hot news items were blacked out.
The extensive redacted paragraphs are expected to contain massive high value information developed in the 18-month Mueller probe. If government officials or the public ever gets to read the presently withheld data, there probably are numerous facts that will rock the nation like an earthquake.
Flynn, 60, is due to be sentenced on Dec. 18.
Mueller said that Flynn’s “firsthand insight” and his benefits to the investigators work “may not be fully realized” until the probe is finished.
The filing reveals that Flynn’s cooperation extended beyond the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible coordination between Trump campaign-related figures and the Kremlin.
One lengthy section, almost entirely blacked out, points to a separate and unspecified “criminal investigation” in which Flynn had “provided substantial assistance” to the investigators.
“Mueller still has many more revelations to drop and they’re going to land hard,” former federal prosecutor Elie Honig wrote in a CNN op-ed about the memo.
White-collar Attorney Sol Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation into then-President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton, said on Fox News, that “the memo itself is kind of a dud,” but only because “all the good stuff is redacted.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to a single count of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kislyak during the presidential transition period, about sanctions slapped on Russia by President Barack Obama in December 2016, in retaliation for that country’s attempts to interfere in the presidential election.
Some legal minds at the time, considered the one-count plea agreement a “sweetheart deal” in light of previously revealed potential offenses Flynn was alleged to have committed, such as making false statements in documents he retroactively filed when registering as a foreign agent for Turkey. Others speculated more charges could have been unveiled against him in Tuesday’s sentencing memo.
Lying to the FBI carries a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison. But Flynn’s plea agreement with Mueller says he is eligible for a sentence ranging from zero to six months behind bars.
Obviously, there’s more information to be revealed from Flynn’s interviews and others who have pertinent knowledge relating to Russia-U.S. exchanges by other suspects.
Mueller, who has run a tight, no-leak investigation, has now opened the door slightly. His filing cabinets must be overflowing with more information that could lead to substantial punishment for others who have been involved.