WASHINGTON (CN) – The Office of the Special Counsel has recommended that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn be given the lightest possible sentence for making false statements to the FBI, given his full cooperation with Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference of the 2016 election.
“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,” prosecutor Brandon Van Grack wrote in the 7-page filing filed late Tuesday night.
Flynn served President Donald Trump for less than a month, stepping down in February 2017 after scrutiny continued to mount around his Dec. 2016 meeting with former Russia ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn did not tell the FBI that during the meeting he discussed the possibility of relieving U.S. sanctions against Russia – which were only just levied by the Obama administration for meddling in the 2016 election - once Trump was elected.
He misled federal officials like Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the interaction as well.
Flynn also violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, prosecutors said, when he falsely claimed that he was unaware that the Turkish government was involved in projects associated with his company, the Flynn Intel Group.
By December 2017, Flynn entered a guilty plea at a federal court in Washington, D.C., agreeing to cooperate with Mueller and admitting that he made “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements,” the plea stated.
“The defendant’s history and characteristics present mitigating and aggravating circumstances. As detailed in the presentence investigation report, the defendant’s military and public service are exemplary. He served in the military for over 33 years, including five years of combat duty, led the Defense Intelligence Agency and retired as a 3-star lieutenant general,” Van Grack wrote. “The defendant’s record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person who has been charged as part of the special counsel’s office investigation.”
Flynn cooperated for almost an entire year, seeing his sentencing date pushed back no less than four times as Mueller and his legal team continued their probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
According to Tuesday’s filing, Flynn met with the special counsel’s team at least 19 times to assist with the investigation.
Flynn’s sentencing date was finally set for Dec. 18 this past September.
Flynn is first official member of the Trump administration to plead guilty to a crime that was uncovered as a part of Mueller’s probe and to possible collusion between Russia and members of the Trump campaign.
Though recommending the lightest sentence, which would be zero to 6 months, prosecutors also noted the seriousness of Flynn’s offense.
“Senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards. The defendant’s extensive government service have made him particularly aware of the harm caused by providing false information to the government as well as the rules governing work performed on behalf of a foreign government,” the filing states. “The defendant deserves credit for accepting responsibility in a timely fashion and substantially assisting the government.”
Mueller’s investigation has turned up charges against several other members of Trump’s inner circle during the campaign including his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and campaign deputy Rick Gates.
Both men agreed to cooperate with Mueller. Gates has done so but in November, prosecutors claimed the onetime lobbyist breached terms of a deal he struck with prosecutors to reduce his sentence for conspiracy charges he faced in Washington, D.C.
Sentencing dates have not yet been set for either Gates or Manafort.
The president’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, also pleaded guilty in court last week for lying to Congress about the Trump Organization’s designs on building a skyscraper in Moscow.
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