Special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday night called for a light sentence — one that might not include — any time in jail at all — for Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor to President Donald Trump.
related to Flynn’s lies to federal agents about his conversations with a top Russian diplomat during the presidential transition from late 2016 into early 2017, will be considered by Judge Emmet Sullivan before he sentences Flynn on Dec. 18 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, has cooperated with Mueller’s ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 president election since pleading guilty in Dec. 1, 2017, and possible coordination with that meddling by the Trump campaign. Mueller is also investigating whether Trump has obstructed justice in the inquiry.
“Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range—including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration—is appropriate and warranted,” Mueller’s office wrote in the memo filed Tuesday.
Flynn’s lawyers will file their own sentencing memorandum by next week.
He faces a possible maximum sentence of five years in prison, but his plea agreement with Mueller says he is eligible for a sentence ranging from no time in prison to six months locked up.
Flynn’s sentencing has already been postponed several times in the past year at Mueller’s request, which is likely a reflection of how extensively the former Trump administration officials has been helpful to the special counsel’s investigation.
Mueller is expected to file another court document later this week in connection with ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Those documents will detail Mueller’s allegation that the longtime Republican consultant Manafort, who pleaded guilty in August to multiple crimes unrelated to the campaign, had lied since then to investigators after agreeing like Flynn to cooperate with Mueller’s probe.
Flynn had served only briefly as Trump’s national security advisor — just 24 days. He is the only member of the Trump administration to date to plead guilty to a crime uncovered by Mueller’s probe.
He was forced to resign Feb. 13, 2017, after being accused of lying to Vice President Mike Flynn and other top Trump administration officials about the nature of his discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition.
A day later, Trump told then-FBI Director James Comey, “I hope you can see your way to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” according to Comey’s notes about that conversation.
Three months after that, Trump fired Comey, whose agency was continuing to investigate Flynn.
Flynn, who was on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1981 through 2014, was a prominent supporter of Trump during the presidential campaign, and had been a senior member of his transition team after the election.
During that transition, then-President Barack Obama warned President-elect Trump against hiring Flynn as national security advisor.
On Jan. 24, 2017, just two days after being sworn in as national security advisor, Flynn agreed to a voluntary interview with FBI agents who were investigating not only Russian interference in the election, but also any links between Trump’s campaign officials and Russia, “and whether there was any coordination between the Campaign and Russia’s efforts,” a court document says.
During that interview, Flynn later admitted, he lied to the FBI agents by saying he did not ask Russia’s then-ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, to refrain from retaliating against the United States in response to sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia for the election meddling.
Flynn also lied by saying he did not recall a subsequent conversation with Kislyak in which the ambassador said Russia had opted to be moderate in its response to the sanctions because of Flynn’s request.
When he pleaded guilty, Flynn also admitted to having made false statements in multiple documents with the Justice Department in March 2017 related to the Foreign Agents Registration Act in connection with a project being performed by him and his firm, the Flynn Intel Group, on behalf of the government of Turkey.
Trump has repeatedly railed against Mueller’s investigation, calling it a “witch hunt.”
The president denies any wrongdoing by himself or by his campaign, and has cast doubt on the belief, widely held by the American intelligence community, that Russian agents interfered in the election.
Mueller to date has not charged anyone in Trump’s orbit with coordinating with Russians to help get Trump elected.
But he has brought charges against, and secured cooperation agreements after guilty pleas from five people connected to Trump.
They include Flynn, Manafort, ex-Manafort business associate and former campaign and transition official Rick Gates, former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and ex-campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.
Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12 in federal court in Manhattan.
He has pleaded guilty to tax crimes, lying to Congress about the extent of Trump’s involvement in an aborted real estate deal in Russian, and campaign finance violations related to hush-money payments made to two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claim to have had affairs with Trump in the mid-2000s.
The White House has denied Trump had sex with either woman.
Read Robert Mueller’s sentencing recommendation for Michael Flynn below: