Wednesday 19 December 2018

Former Trump aide should be 'spared jail for co-operation'

Awaiting sentence: Ex-security adviser Michael Flynn. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
Awaiting sentence: Ex-security adviser Michael Flynn. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Michael Silke

US 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 co-operation as "substantial".

The filing by special counsel Robert Mueller provides the first details of Flynn's assistance in the Russia investigation, including that he participated in 19 interviews with prosecutors and co-operated extensively in a separate and undisclosed criminal probe. But the filing's extensive redactions also underscore how much Mr Mueller has yet to reveal.

It was filed two weeks ahead of Flynn's sentencing and just over a year after he became the first of five Trump associates to accept responsibility by pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US.

Though prosecutors withheld specific details of Flynn's co-operation because of ongoing investigations, their filing nonetheless illustrates the breadth of information Mr Mueller has obtained from people close to Mr Trump as the president increasingly vents his anger at the probe - and those who co-operate with it.

This week, Mr 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 long-time confidante Roger Stone for saying he wouldn't testify against Mr Trump.

It's unclear if Mr Trump will now turn his fury on Flynn, whom Mr Trump bonded with during the 2016 campaign.

Mr 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 Mr Comey wrote after the February 2017 encounter.

That episode, which Mr Trump has denied, is among those under scrutiny by Mr Mueller as he probes whether the president attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation. Prosecutors said Flynn's early co-operation was "particularly valuable" because he was "one of the few people with long-term and first-hand insight" into the events under investigation.

Irish Independent

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