Special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday dismissed in no uncertain terms the idea that former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn was entrapped by the FBI.
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 in a memorandum days ago. In that memorandum, they asked for no prison time for lying to investigators. 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.
Here's the section that says McCabe "and others" decided the agents shouldn't warn Flynn it was a crime to lie to the FBI because they wanted him relaxed. Flynn was "unguarded" and surprisingly chatty, the agents noted pic.twitter.com/wgFzNT7oFs
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) December 14, 2018
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 will 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.
You can read Mueller’s response below.
[Image via Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images]