Michael Flynn's sentencing memo has Democrats salivating

Democrats are having a field day with Robert Mueller's sentencing memo for Trump's former national security adviser

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published December 5, 2018 11:40AM (EST)

Michael Flynn (Getty/Mandel Ngan)
Michael Flynn (Getty/Mandel Ngan)

Experts and commentators are reacting in pretty much the same way to special counsel Robert Mueller's recommendation that former national security adviser Michael Flynn receive no jail time due to his cooperation — it means that Flynn was very helpful in helping Mueller advance his case.

"As a former prosecutor, here is my view of the Flynn memo," tweeted Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif. His three bullet points included that "Mueller is signaling to other targets that if they cooperate, they will get leniency; There are 'several ongoing investigations'; Mueller believes his job is secure & felt no need to disclose what he has uncovered."

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. and the Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, had a similar observation, tweeting that "The recommendation of no jail time for Flynn, apart from its obvious irony for the man who led chants of 'lock her up,' reflects both the timeliness and significance of his help. That most of the details are redacted signals he has given far more than we or the President may know."

Former FBI Special Agent and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa made a more somber point, tweeting that "The Flynn memo makes clear that the Trump campaign had a National Security Adviser who WAS ON THE PAYROLL OF A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT. At the same time Trump was pursuing a financial deal in Russia without disclosing it. How many countries were pulling strings behind the scenes?!?"

CNN's Chris Cillizza argued that the key sentence in Mueller's sentencing memo is that "the defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government," since "Flynn is the only one of the seven Trump associates who have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the Mueller probe who bridges the divide between Trump's campaign, the transition and the presidency." As a result, he speculated that this means Flynn was able to provide such significant information regarding the case being built by Mueller and his team that the special counsel felt he deserved a lenient sentence.

Timothy L. O'Brien, a journalist who wrote a book about Donald Trump in 2005, wrote in Bloomberg that "the meat of what should worry Team Trump is in Mueller’s disclosure that Flynn has provided firsthand information about interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials – including, as was already known, several conversations with Kislyak in December 2016. Those included a discussion about lifting economic sanctions the Obama administration had imposed on Russia and about a separate matter involving a United Nations resolution on Israel."

The consensus view is that, while we can't know for sure what Flynn told Mueller's team, it will comprise a crucial part of the special counsel's eventual case regarding the Trump-Russia scandal.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Michael Flynn Paul Manafort Robert Mueller Trump Russia Scandal