As was expected, but probably later than most had anticipated, special counsel Robert Mueller formally briefed a federal court on Tuesday night on his recommendations for how he believes former national security adviser Michael Flynn should be sentenced following his cooperation with the Russia investigation, a year after he formally pleaded guilty to lying to investigators.
What was probably surprising, or at the very least prompting quite a bit of speculation, was that Mueller recommended that Flynn face no jail time for his crimes, according to reporting from CNN. Mueller said in his court briefing that he made the recommendation based on the fact that Flynn had given his investigators “substantial assistance” within the Russia inquiry.
In a memo to the court, Mueller suggested that some of the information given by Flynn, which helped in him deciding to recommend no jail time, involve several aspects of the investigation that have not yet been made public. Portions of an addendum explaining Mueller’s suggestion not to imprison him have been made confidential as a result.
According to that addendum, Flynn participated in at least 19 interviews on topics involved in the investigation. He also “provided documents and communications” to the special counsel, the addendum said.
Flynn could have faced substantial jail time for the crimes he was charged with and pleaded guilty to a year ago (almost to the exact date). He admitted to investigators that he had lied to them, for example, a charge that could have landed him up to five years in prison, according to Dallas News.
Flynn’s plea was a major milestone in the Russia investigation in terms of how it had shifted from looking into the Kremlin’s meddling in our elections to how members of President Donald Trump’s inner circle during the 2016 campaign may have sought to collude with a foreign power in order to win the election.
Flynn served for less than a month in the Trump administration as the president’s national security adviser, after being a key figure on his campaign. He was fired after acting-Attorney General Sally Yates told officials in the White House that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about communications Flynn had with Russian agents about lifting sanctions the U.S. had put on that nation.
Yates also brought forward concerns from the intelligence community that Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russian government, according to reporting from the Guardian.