Investigators in the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian collusion have rejected an excuse by attorneys for former National Security Adviser and early Trump supporter Michael Flynn that he was not told lying to the FBI is illegal.
Prosecutors on Mueller’s team put forth their response to sentencing guidelines made by Flynn’s legal team.
“A sitting National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents,” prosecutors wrote.
“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,” they added.
Flynn’s attorneys had stated the agents who interviewed Flynn never explained the consequences of lying to the FBI. “The agents did not provide General Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement…before, during, or after the interview,” they wrote.
The FBI interviewed Flynn on January 24, 2017 about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. the previous December. In those conversations Flynn told the ambassador to convince his government not to retaliate against sanctions the Obama administration leveled against Russia for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
An article in The Washington Post first made the allegations 12 days prior to the FBI’s questioning of Flynn. In the intervening days, Flynn denied the charges to several members of the Trump administration, as well as to the FBI agents. He ultimately resigned as National Security Adviser in February 2017.
Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI in December of last year, and at the same time announced that he would cooperate with Mueller. In light of that cooperation, Mueller’s team recommended little to no jail time for Flynn earlier this month.
“Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations…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 team wrote in their sentencing recommendations.
Mueller’s team is sticking to that recommendation, despite the allegations made by Flynn’s attorneys. “Assuming the defendant continues to accept responsibility for his actions, his cooperation and military service continue to justify a sentence at the low end of the guideline range,” they wrote.
Flynn’s team has asked for a sentence of no jail time and no more than one year of probation.
Developments in the Russia probe have come rapidly in recent weeks as several other figures closely associated with President Donald Trump have been, or are soon about to be sentenced for their roles in activities related to the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.
Longtime Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison for among other things, breaking campaign finance laws, and onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is set to be sentenced early next year for lying to the FBI and a slew of tax evasion and money laundering charges..
Michael Flynn is set to be sentenced Tuesday, December 18.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr