WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser provided so much information to the special counsel’s Russia investigation that prosecutors say he shouldn’t do any prison time, according to a court filing that describes Michael Flynn’s cooperation as “substantial.”
The filing by special counsel Robert Mueller provides the first details of Flynn’s assistance in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible contacts with the Trump campaign.
Flynn participated in 19 interviews with prosecutors and cooperated extensively in a separate and undisclosed criminal probe, according to the filing. But the document’s lengthy redactions also underscore how much Mueller has yet to reveal.
It was filed Tuesday, 2 weeks ahead of Flynn’s sentencing and just over a year after he became one of five Trump associates to plead guilty in the Russia probe – in his case admitting to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Trump took office.
Though prosecutors withheld specific details of Flynn’s cooperation because of ongoing investigations, their filing nonetheless illustrates the breadth of information Mueller has obtained from people close to Trump as the president increasingly vents his anger at the probe — and those who cooperate with it.
This week, Trump accused his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, of making up “stories” to get a reduced prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress and also praised longtime confidante Roger Stone for saying he wouldn’t testify against Trump.
It’s unclear if Trump will now turn his fury on Flynn, whom Trump bonded with during the 2016 campaign.
Trump has repeatedly lamented how Flynn’s life has been destroyed by the special counsel’s probe. At one point, he tried to protect Flynn by asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into his alleged false statements, according to a memo Comey wrote after the February 2017 encounter.
That episode, which Trump has denied, is among those under scrutiny by Mueller as he probes whether the president attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation.
Federal sentencing guidelines recommend between 0 and 6 months in prison, and Mueller’s office said Flynn’s cooperation merits no prison time.
Prosecutors said Flynn’s early cooperation was “particularly valuable” because he was “one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight” into the events under investigation. They noted his cooperation likely inspired other crucial witnesses to cooperate.
Mueller’s team credited Flynn with serving 33 years in the U.S. Army, including 5 years in combat. But prosecutors also said the long military and government service that sets him apart from all other defendants in the investigation made his deception more troublesome.
“The defendant’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,” they wrote.
Flynn’s case has stood apart from those of other Trump associates, who have aggressively criticized the investigation, sought to undermine it and, in some cases, been accused of lying even after agreeing to cooperate.
Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is accused of repeatedly lying to investigators since his guilty plea. Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, is serving a 14-day prison sentence and, though he pleaded guilty to the same crime as Flynn, was denied probation because prosecutors said his cooperation was lacking.