MUELLER RECOMMENDS NO JAIL TIME FOR MICHAEL FLYNN, WHO PROVIDED ‘SUBSTANTIAL ASSISTANCE’ TO RUSSIA PROBE
Chuck Ross | Reporter
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 adviser’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. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty To Making False Statements To The FBI)
Flynn also lied by denying that on Dec. 22, 2016, he asked Kislyak to delay a vote on a U.N. 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. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Is Lobbying For Obscure Dutch Company Linked To Turkish Government)
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.
Mueller Releases Flynn Sentencing Memo – Recommends Leniency, No Incarceration, Heavy Focus on Turkish Lobbying Issues…
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has released the sentencing guideline memo against General Michael Flynn (full pdf below). Within the sentencing recommendation the special counsel recommends leniency:
Here’s the full court filing, along with CTH review and opinion therein.
Notice the primary legal risk/emphasis is not directed to the *lying* issue surrounding the FBI interview with Flynn, but rather is focused on the issues surrounding the unregistered lobbying for Turkey; the FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) violation.
There’s about a page on the FBI interview, and two pages on the Turkish lobbying issues.
The Turkish lobbying was the teeth that Mueller used to keep General Michael Flynn on the ropes. Long time CTH readers might remember how we warned about this issue even before Flynn was selected for National Security Adviser [PLEASE SEE HERE]. So it does not come as a surprise to see this issue at the epicenter of Mueller’s leverage against Flynn.
Secondly, CTH warned again in August 2017 about how this issue was likely to be used against Flynn. [AGAIN SEE HERE FOR THE SECOND WARNING] The FARA issue was the preeminent leverage used by Mueller, exactly as expected.
We knew even before the election this could be a problem. As far as we could surmise at the time – the Trump Campaign and subsequent President-Elect transition team, had no idea that campaign advocate and campaign adviser Michael Flynn was also being paid to lobby in DC on behalf of the government of Turkey, and Recep Erdogan.
The entire Flynn lobbying arrangement was beyond sketchy. Before the election Flynn penned an op-ed advocating heavily for Recep Erdogan –SEE HERE– The content was entirely disconnected from the assembled foreign policy outlook of Candidate Donald Trump. The Flynn Op-Ed was actually counter to candidate Trump’s policy views. (more)
♦Now, on the issue of Flynn lying to the FBI – this is the primary focus of the media’s entire narrative construct and is part of the Mueller sentencing memo. However, if you look at the recommendation for no-incarceration; in my opinion, there’s an angle to this that has always been FUBAR.
This is complex, so please bear with me.
Many people have asked the question why would Michael Flynn have lied about talking to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the first place?
It’s a great question.
The Occam’s Razor answer is the toxic political environment that existed in January 2017, where the administration was being hammered by a tsunami of media narratives and political opposition claiming that any scintilla of contact with anything Russian meant that Putin and Trump were “colluding BFF’s”,…. and Flynn didn’t want to fuel that nonsense.
If you look at the timeline, there was always a sketchy set of circumstances.
JOHN DICKERSON: But there’s a distinction between that feeling about the press and legitimate inquiry, as you say, that the Senate Intelligence Committee is doing. Just to button up one question, did any advisor or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?
MIKE PENCE: Of course not. And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy. (link)
*NOTE* Notice the incoming administration was under a false-narrative siege created by the media. At the time (early Jan, 2017) ‘any contact’ with Russians was evidence of meddling/election-collusion with Russians. VP-elect Mike Pence poorly answered the question from Dickerson from a very defensive position.
That toxic media environment and Mike Pence speaking poorly during a Face The Nation interview was the issue. Once Vice-President Mike Pence made the statement that Flynn had no contact with anyone from Russia etc. any contradictory statement from Flynn would make Pence appear compromised; so Flynn had to stick to Pence’s false point without clarification. Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on January 24th, nine days after Pence made his comments.
•Tuesday January 24th – Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed at the WH by the FBI.
During this ambush interview, disguised as a meeting, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Agent Joe Pientka were contrasting Vice-President-elect Pence’s statements to CBS against the known action of Mike Flynn. [Flynn has three options: either (1) Flynn contradicts Pence, or (2) he tells a lie; or (3) Flynn explains Pence misspoke, those were his options.]
How Flynn responded to the line of inquiry and explained/reconciled the difference between Pence’s statement on Jan 15th, and what actually took place, is why the FBI ended up with the conclusion that Flynn wasn’t lying.
I have long believed it is within this dynamic where the FD-302 reports, written by Strzok and Pientka, then became the subject of political manipulation by Asst. FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
Stay with me and think about this carefully.
The FBI knew the content of the Flynn call with Sergey Kislyak because they were listening in. The FBI were intercepting those communications. So when Pence said no-one had any contact on January 15th, the FBI crew IMMEDIATELY knew they had a bombshell issue to exploit.
We see the evidence of the FBI knowing they had an issue to exploit, and being very nervous about doing it, in the messages between Lisa Page and FBI Agent Peter Strzok who would end up doing the questioning of Flynn.
The day before the Flynn interview:
♦January 23, 2017, the day before the Flynn interview, Lisa Page says: “I can feel my heart beating harder, I’m so stressed about all the ways THIS has the potential to go fully off the rails.” Weird!
♦Strzok replies: “I know. I just talked with John, we’re getting together as soon as I get in to finish that write up for Andy (MCCABE) this morning.” Strzok agrees with Page about being stressed that “THIS” could go off the rails… (Strzok’s meeting w Flynn the next day)
Why would Page & Strzok be stressed about “THIS” potentially going off the rails? The answer is simple: they knew the content of the phone call between Mike Flynn and Sergey Kislyak because they were listening in, and they were about to exploit the Pence statement to CBS. That’s why they were so nervous. They were planning and plotting with Andrew McCabe about how they were going to exploit the phone-tap.
I’m not convinced that Flynn lied. There’s a good possibility Flynn was honest but his honesty contradicted Pence’s national statement on CBS; and he likely tried to dance through a needle without being overly critical of VP-elect Pence misspeaking. Remember, the alternative, if Flynn is brutally honest, is for the media to run with a narrative about Vice-President Pence is now a national liar in the media.
That’s why the issue of how the FBI interviewers write the 302 summary of the interview becomes such an important facet. We see that dynamic again playing out in the messages between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok with Andrew McCabe providing the guidance.
♦February 14th, 2017, text messages – here is a note about the FBI reports filed from the Flynn interview. Peter Strzok asks Lisa Page if FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is OK with his report: “Also, is Andy good with F-302?”
Lisa Page replies: “Launch on F 302”.
That would be Flynn’s 302. The FBI interpretation of the Flynn interview, is now the way the FBI can control the interview content…. and, specifically because the only recourse Flynn would have to contradict that FBI interpretation would be to compromise the Vice President… Flynn cannot challenge the structure of the narrative within the 302 outline.
See what happened?
Does it all make sense now?
Do you see why there are reports of the second FBI agent, Joe Pientka, saying he didn’t believe Flynn lied to them in the interview. Likely because Flynn didn’t…. but the McCabe crew jumped on the opportunity to frame a lose/lose. Either Flynn accepts a version of the 302 report where he lied; or, Flynn has to take the position that Vice President Mike Pence lied to the nation in the CBS Face The Nation interview.
See how that went down?
That’s also the likely reason why FBI Agent Joe Pietka has been kept quiet.
FUBAR !! All of it.
MICHAEL FLYNN IS HELPING THE GOVERNMENT ON ‘SEVERAL’ CASES. WHICH ONES?
Chuck Ross | Reporter
- A long-awaited memo filed Tuesday revealed that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has helped the special counsel and other prosecutors on “several” investigations
- That reference has touched off speculation about what other cases Flynn is helping with in addition to Mueller’s Russia probe
- The retired lieutenant general could be providing assistance on Turkey’s lobbying efforts in the U.S., a now-deceased political operative’s hunt for deleted Clinton emails, or a “peace plan” proposed by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen
The special counsel’s memo in the Michael Flynn case says that the former national security adviser is cooperating with prosecutors on “several” different investigations.
The wording of that memo, which said that Flynn has provided “substantial” assistance to the government, has touched off widespread speculation about what other investigations Flynn has provided information for outside of the special counsel’s core probe into possible collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government.
The memo makes clear that Flynn has provided assistance regarding the Trump transition team’s interactions with Russian government officials. Special counsel Robert Mueller recommended that Flynn receive no jail time due to his assistance to the government. He met 19 times with Mueller’s team or prosecutors in other Justice Department offices, according to the memo.
Flynn’s interactions with Russians during the transition period is the core component of the case against the retired lieutenant general. He admitted to making false statements about conversations he had in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding U.S. sanctions against Russia. (RELATED: Mueller Recommends No Jail Time For Michael Flynn, Citing ‘Substantial’ Assistance)
But the structure of the heavily-redacted Mueller memo suggests that Flynn is helping prosecutors with at least two outside investigations, as well as other components of the Mueller probe. The specifics of that cooperation is impossible to glean from Mueller’s sentencing memo due to heavy redactions. Flynn’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Flynn has been linked to several questionable schemes that transpired during the campaign, the presidential transition period, and his 24-day tenure as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
Flynn secretly consulted for the Turkish government during the campaign. He also reportedly met in 2015 with a now-deceased GOP operative who claimed to have hired hackers to find the 30,000-plus emails that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deleted from her private email server.
In his brief stint in the White House, Flynn was the recipient of a proposal from Michael Cohen, who then served as Trump’s personal lawyer. Cohen reportedly handed Flynn a proposal related to Ukraine.
Flynn’s work for the Turkish government is featured prominently in an addendum to the main Mueller memo. Of the 1,380 words in that document, 440 discuss Flynn’s false statements to the Justice Department about his Turkish lobbying.
Flynn made “materially false statements in multiple documents” that he filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), according to the memo.
Flynn denied working on behalf of the Turkish government. He also claimed that he wrote an op-ed on Nov. 8, 2016, about an opponent of the Turkish government on his own accord. But Flynn was actually working at the time for Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman who chaired a trade group controlled by the Turkish government. Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, signed a $600,000 contract in August 2016 with an obscure shell company that Alptekin registered in the Netherlands.
Flynn was not charged with false statements related to his lobbying efforts, though his false statements are disclosed in a statement of offense attached to his Dec. 1, 2017, plea agreement. That agreement stipulated that the special counsel would not prosecute Flynn for any crimes laid out in his statement of offense. The agreement did not preclude prosecution by any other U.S. attorney’s offices.
Mueller and prosecutors in other jurisdictions have showed interest in the lobbying effort. Mueller’s team reportedly interviewed Alptekin in May 2017. The New York Times reported on Aug. 4, 2017, that Mueller’s team was investigating whether Flynn made kickback payments to his former client.
Flynn could also be providing assistance regarding GOP operative Peter Smith’s hunt for deleted Clinton emails.
Josh Campbell, a CNN analyst and former FBI aide to James Comey, floated that theory Tuesday.
Smith, who committed suicide in May 2017, put together a team of computer experts and hackers during the campaign to track down Clinton’s deleted emails.
Smith reportedly claimed that Flynn was involved in the project. The pair met in 2015.
There is some reason to doubt that the Smith effort is being scrutinized by Mueller and company, however.
Jerome Corsi, a right-wing author who knew Smith and is a target in the Mueller probe, wrote in a new book that the prosecutors he has dealt with appeared wholly uninterested in the Smith matter. Corsi writes at one point in “Silent No More” that Smith may have told him in 2016 that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Corsi ultimately concludes in his book that Smith may have been bluffing.
Corsi and Flynn are listed on a memo that Smith circulated to associates touting his project to track down the Clinton emails. But at least two people also on that list, conservative muckraker journalist James O’Keefe and Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton, have told The Daily Caller News Foundation that they had no involvement in Smith’s project and weren’t even aware of it at the time he was looking for Clinton’s emails.
Smith’s hunt for the Clinton documents appears to have gone nowhere. Clinton’s deleted emails have not been released, and he has not been linked to WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Flynn may also have provided information related to a proposal he received from Cohen, the former lawyer for Trump, pushing a shady Ukrainian “peace plan.”
The New York Times reported on Feb. 19, 2017, that in the days before Flynn was fired on Feb. 13, 2017, Cohen passed Flynn a proposal calling for relaxing sanctions against Russia in exchange for recognizing Crimea as a Ukrainian territory.
Cohen obtained the proposal during a meeting in New York City with Ukrainian politician Andrey Artemenko and Felix Sater, a business partner of Cohen’s who has worked extensively for U.S. intelligence agencies.
Cohen is cooperating with the special counsel’s office and pleaded guilty on Thursday to lying to Congress about his work to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen and Sater worked together on that project, which ultimately fizzled out after Trump won the GOP nomination.
It remains unclear what Flynn did with the Ukraine proposal.