Michael Flynn is bidding to avoid jail for lying about his contacts with Russian operatives during the 2016 election. But special counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, today (Dec. 14), shredded claims he was “tricked” into lying by FBI agents three different ways in a pointed memorandum.
Flynn’s lawyers late Tuesday (Dec. 11) filed a motion asking federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan to grant probation instead of jail time, to the former Trump National Security Adviser for misleading investigators.
The lawyers also cited his remorse, lengthy military service and willingness to aid the Mueller investigation as mitigating factors, according to The New York Times. “His cooperation was not grudging or delayed,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote.
Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 18.
In a pointed response filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Mueller, by and through his office, issued a pointed rebuttal.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by Money & Power, zeros in on a Jan. 24, 2017 FBI interview that Flynn cited in his plea.
“Nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the FBI on January 24,” it states.
In fact, Flynn had already lied about his communications with the Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak in news media interviews two weeks before the FBI meeting.
Flynn also lied to then incoming-Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the transition team, causing President Trump to reluctantly fire him in Dec. 2017.
“When faced with the FBI’s questions on January 24, during an interview that was voluntary and cordial, the defendant repeated the same false statements,” the memo states.
“On Jan. 12, 2017, The Washington Post published a story asserting that the defendant had spoken with the Russian ambassador on Dec29, 2016, the day the United States announced sanctions and other measures against Russia in response to that government’s actions intended to interfere with the 2016 election.”
Flynn asked a subordinate member of the Presidential Transition Team to contact the Post on the morning of January 13 and convey false information about the defendant’s communications with the Russian ambassador.
The Post updated its report to add that it was told Flynn “didn’t cover” sanctions in his conversation with Kislyak.
“Over the next two weeks, the defendant repeated the same false statements to multiple members of the Presidential Transition Team, including Vice President-Elect Michael Pence, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer,” the memo states.
In its second line of attack, the Mueller memo argues that Flynn’s decision to make false statements to the FBI was “voluntary and intentional.”
The FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe… called defendant to arrange the interview and explained that the FBI needed to talk to him in light of the ‘media coverage and public discussion about his recent contacts with Russian representatives.'”
Michael Flynn agreed to the meeting and knew going into the meeting that the questions would focus on his meeting with Kislyak, because McCabe confirmed it.
“During the interview, the FBI agents gave [Flynn] multiple opportunities to correct his false statements by revisiting key questions. When the defendant said he did not remember something they knew he said, they used the exact words the defendant had used in order to prompt a truthful response.
“But the defendant never corrected his false statements,” the memo states. At all times, Flynn appeared “relaxed and jocular,” the agents noted.
The third rebuttal focuses on Michael Flynn’s claims that “multiple aspects” of the FBI interview lessen the seriousness of his offense.
Mueller’s office essentially argues that Flynn should have known better given his long government service as National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces.
“He does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth. The defendant undoubtedly was aware, in light of his ‘many years’ working with the FBI, that lying to the FBI carries serious consequences.”
Michael Flynn also agreed to meet with the agents without a lawyer. His obligation to be truthful “did not turn on hte presence of counsel.”
In fact, Flynn continued to lie weeks after meeting with FBI agents. He made the same “materially false statements” pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
“The defendant made those false statements while represented by counsel and after receiving an explicit warning that providing false information was a federal offense,” the memo continues.
As part of his plea deal, Flynn has admitted in court that he “knowingly made false statements to FBI agents in a national security investigation. Those false statements were material, including by raising the question of why he was lying to the FBI, the Vice President, and others.”
“The seriousness of the defendant’s offense cannot be called into question, and the Court should reject his attempt to minimize it,” the memo concludes.
Flynn faces up to six months in prison, but he is expected to spend far less time in jail.
Federal prosecutors said in a separate hearing that Flynn deserved little to no prison time, because of the information he provided the investigation. He met with Mueller’s investigators 19 times over the course of 60 hours, according to The Times.