Mueller’s office recommends no jail time for former national security adviser Michael Flynn

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is recommending no jail time for former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn.

According to a sentencing memo filed in court today, prosecutors say Flynn provided “substantial assistance” to investigators and “firsthand information about content and context of interactions between Trump transition team and Russian government officials.”

Flynn, who held the White House job for only 24 days, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. He will be sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 18.

The retired army general was forced to resign after he was found to have misled Vice-President Mike Pence about discussions he had with Russia’s then-ambassador Sergei Kislyak before Trump became president.

Prosecutors said the two men discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia and that Flynn also asked Kislyak to help delay a United Nations vote seen as damaging to Israel.

Flynn’s crime of lying to the FBI carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison. However, his plea agreement states he is eligible for a sentence of zero to six months and can ask the court not to impose a fine.

Flynn’s long career in the military culminated with his appointment by President Barack Obama as director of national intelligence in 2012. But he was forced into retirement a year early in 2014, after reportedly clashing with officials in the Pentagon and the administration.

He went on start a consultancy and write a book, which was highly critical of Obama, and he undertook speaking engagements and other appearances. One of them, at a December 2015 event for Russian state broadcaster RT in which he ended up seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, raised eyebrows among his former colleagues.

He then campaigned vigorously for Trump in 2016, encouraging audience members during his speaking turn at the Republican national convention in Cleveland, who were chanting “Lock her up!” when he mentioned Hillary Clinton’s name.

Flynn’s time in the administration was brief. According to later congressional testimony, acting interim attorney general Sally Yates warned the administration that Flynn’s contacts with Russia made him susceptible to blackmail, while former FBI Director James Comey testified that Trump pressured him to refrain from investigating Flynn.

Mueller, as special counsel, was given the job of probing “any links and/or co-ordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

In this image made from a video taken on Dec. 10, 2015 and made available on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, US President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, right, shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow. Flynn, who resigned following reports that he misled White House officials about his contacts with Russia, was seen attending the 10th anniversary of the Russian television network RT in 2015 where Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech. A US official has told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia after US intelligence reported that Russia had interfered with the US elections. (Ruptly via AP) (The Associated Press)

Flynn, who turns 60 on Wednesday, is among a number of people in Trump’s orbit who have pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

The list also includes his former presidential campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s colleague, Rick Gates, Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen and campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who began serving a short prison sentence last week.

In addition, the Mueller probe has brought down indictments on over two dozen Russians related to cyber intrusions into U.S. affairs, though they will likely remain out of the grasp of prosecution as the U.S. has no extradition treaty with Moscow.

The latest development comes with the Democrats set to take control of the House in January. The party’s leadership has promised to vigorously pursue areas of investigation into Trump’s finances and Trump team contacts with foreign actors, having accused the Republicans of choosing party loyalty over proper oversight the past two years.

Trump has continually railed against the special counsel investigation and Russia has denied interfering into the 2016 election, though Putin admitted at a joint appearance with the U.S. president this past summer that he had hoped Trump would prevail over Clinton.

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