President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia tampering with the 2016 presidential election for over a year now. Mueller advised the federal court judge that Flynn should receive no jail time for his crimes, citing Flynn's "extensive cooperation" with the investigation. While the released details of the filing were heavily redacted due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, they still reveal that Flynn has been a valuable and deep well of information for Mueller, according to the Hill.
While it is impossible to know exactly what Flynn contributed to the Mueller investigation, the filing says that Flynn provided valuable "firsthand" information to the special counsel's team, according to CNBC. A firsthand witness, in other words a person that was physically present for events that unfolded, will be key to bringing charges against individuals should Mueller be able to uncover corroborating evidence. The filing says that Flynn assisted on a "range of issues," including providing details about the "content and context" of interactions between President Trump's associates and the Russian government. The fact that the special counsel asked for Flynn to receive no jail time suggests that the information he provided is significant and important.
"His early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation by the [special counsel's office]," the memo states.
The longtime collaboration between Flynn and Mueller leaves President Trump in a difficult position, according to CNN. It is uncertain how much Flynn's cooperation will directly affect President Trump, if at all, given that the special counsel has publicly committed to following Justice Department guidelines which discourage indictments against a sitting president. However, if there was collusion between Trump's organization and the Russian government, or any other misdeeds during Trump's campaign, his transition period, or in the early days of his presidency then Mueller has just culled a lot of information from a prime contact. Nonetheless, Mueller's filings have given no indication that President Trump is in any way the focus of the investigation.
"It's clearly a warning sign when your national security adviser and a person who was a prime contact or intermediary between the campaign and the Russians has been deemed to give substantial assistance to federal law enforcement," said Seth Waxman, a former federal prosecutor. "If I were the president, I would take great discomfort in that notion."
The long collaboration with Flynn combined with the recently secured cooperation of President Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen and unfolding rumors of upcoming indictments for Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi suggest that perhaps the Mueller investigation still has a long way to go, making it likely that the investigation will push deep into 2019 and perhaps beyond, according to Time.
"The redactions can detail historical events that Mr. Flynn has cooperated on or they could focus on ongoing efforts and what we call proactive cooperation that is still taking place today," Waxman said. "I don't think we can get any certainty on where the Mueller investigation stands or whether it is close to concluding."
Perhaps the most intriguing revelation from the filing is that Flynn assisted with "several ongoing investigations" beyond the Russian tampering probe. The filing says that Flynn has aided investigators in a criminal investigation and at least one other matter. Clearly, Mueller has uncovered criminal activity related in some way to the 2016 presidential election, which makes upcoming criminal indictments highly likely. The fact that the initial focus on the 2016 election has now branched out into other investigations is another indicator that the special counsel is far from finished, though it is also possible that those tangental investigations will be handled by other members of the Justice Department and reach their conclusion after Mueller has filed his final report on potential election tampering.
"What I think here is Flynn provided information that is allowing Mueller to make a criminal case against someone," said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor. "We don't know who that is. We can speculate or not speculate. But there is certainly somebody out there who has a criminal case that could be coming," he said.