U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday ordered the release of the FBI’s Jan. 24, 2017 interview of former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, having determined that the public had the right to see it. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18 — that is, on Tuesday.
Sullivan said, court records show, that on Dec. 12 the Court ordered the special counsel Robert Mueller to produce “any 302s [i.e. interview notes] or memoranda relevant to the circumstances discussed on pages 7-9 of [Flynn’s] sentencing memorandum.”
The special counsel’s office responded by submitting the transcript of the FBI interview under seal. Sullivan reviewed the document and concluded that it was “relevant to Mr. Flynn’s sentencing.” However, Sullivan also ruled the the special counsel’s “proposed redactions” were “appropriate.” That document has been filed and you can read it below.
After Mueller filed his much-anticipated Flynn memo, in which he partially detailed what Flynn did to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation and other ongoing criminal probes, Flynn’s legal team filed a memo of its own containing numerous testimonials for Flynn. One thing that raised some eyebrows was the legal team’s comments about the circumstances of the interview that got Flynn busted.
Mueller responded by unloading on the idea that FBI investigators entrapped Flynn.
Mueller said that the “circumstances surrounding [Flynn’s] FBI interview on January 24, 2017” are not a mitigating factor, as Flynn’s legal team suggested. Mueller said that “nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the FBI on January 24.”
He said Flynn “chose to make false statements about his communications with the Russian ambassador (Kislyak) weeks before the FBI interview, when he lied about that topic to the media, the incoming Vice President, and other members of the Presidential Transition Team.”
“When faced with the FBI’s questions on January 24, during an interview that was voluntary and cordial, the defendant repeated the same false statements. The Court should reject the defendant’s attempt to minimize the seriousness of those false statements to the FBI,” Mueller argued. “The circumstances of the defendant’s interview also show that his decision to make false statements was voluntary and intentional.”
Mueller said Flynn, as a “sitting National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces” knows better than to lie to federal agents and “does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents.” Flynn was interviewed by ousted FBI agent Peter Strzok.
The special counsel also said FBI agents gave Flynn “multiple opportunities to correct his false statements by revisiting key questions.”
“When the defendant said he did not remember something they knew he said, they used the exact words the defendant had used in order to prompt a truthful response,” he said. “But the defendant never corrected his false statements. The interview was voluntary, and lacked any indicia of coercion.”
In closing, Mueller said that the seriousness of the offense “cannot be called into question, and the Court should reject his attempt to minimize it.” Despite this, Mueller said he would not pursue a more painful punishment.
“While the circumstances of the interview do not present mitigating considerations, 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,” he said. Previously, Mueller said he would be comfortable with it if Flynn didn’t get any jail time.
Flynn’s legal team asked for no jail time.
[Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
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