The sentencing memorandum for Michael Flynn doesn't look good for Trump.
The Office of the Special Counsel dropped the sentencing memorandum for Michael Flynn, President Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, on Tuesday night.
It’s only 13 pages, and 6 of those are heavily redacted, but it seems to send a message to Trump: Michael Flynn talked. And he talked a lot.
First, the memo goes out of its way to praise the “significance and usefulness” of Flynn’s assistance. This includes assistance in another criminal investigation that’s separate from the special counsel probe, the subject of which is unfortunately redacted.
That redaction is tantalizing because it makes clear that Flynn has helped with more than just the investigation into collusion — and that a criminal investigation may well be circling ever-nearer to Trump and his inner circle.
Mueller also takes pains to point out that the full scope of Flynn’s cooperation really can’t be known yet because the investigations about which he provided information are still ongoing.
So, even though it is a possibility that the collusion investigation itself might be winding down, there are still more investigations out there. It’s a neat way of reminding Trump that Mueller has a broad charge to pursue any other matters that come out of the collusion investigation.
Everyone already knew that Flynn had lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition, where he asked them to refrain from “escalating the situation in response to sanctions” that had been imposed against Russia. The subtext of that request, of course, was that the Trump administration would go easy on Russia and lift or minimize the sanctions.
The sentencing memo notes that Flynn provided information on just that. However, it goes on to say that Flynn also offered information about contacts between the Trump transition team and Russia.
While that section is redacted, it shows there are more points of collusive contact out there — and Mueller knows it.
It’s also important to remember that the Office of the Special Counsel asked for multiple delays in issuing their sentencing recommendation. There’s a very real possibility that those delays were because Flynn kept on talking.
Here’s perhaps the most critical takeaway from this memo: Even though Flynn’s conduct is described as quite serious, Mueller is ultimately recommending no jail time for Flynn.
Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos got 14 days in prison, and it looks like former campaign chair Paul Manafort will face significant prison time. But Michael Flynn isn’t going to be locked up for even a minute.
The message to potential defendants: Talk and you won’t see the inside of a cell. The message to Trump: Flynn talked about you and your team, and he’s being rewarded.
The GOP is already trying to spin this as somehow good for Trump, but it really isn’t. With this sentencing memorandum, Mueller is telling Trump that thanks to Flynn, he knows more — a lot more — about collusion and about other crimes, and he’s not stopping any time soon.
Published with permission of The American Independent.