Former army general most senior member of president’s campaign with Robert Mueller
Andrew Buncombe Seattle – www.independent.co.uk
Prosecutors had originally said Michael Flynn, the former army general convicted of lying to the FBI over his contact with a Russian official, should serve probation after he pleaded guilty to the accusations in December 2017.
Yet, in the latest twist to the case of the one of the most senior members of the Trump campaign to have been caught up in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, prosecutors have now reversed course.
“It is within the government’s sole discretion to determine whether the defendant has ‘substantially assisted’ the government,” prosecutor Brandon Van Grack wrote in a 33-page court filing, according to the Washington Post.
“In light of the complete record, including actions subsequent to December 18, 2018, that negate the benefits of much of the defendant’s earlier cooperation, the government no longer deems the defendant’s assistance “substantial”.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his communications with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 presidential transition.
At the time, he was the closest Trump associate to agree to cooperate in Mr Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s alleged inference in the election, and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
He met repeatedly with prosecutors over the following months as they investigated whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the election.
Sarah Sanders says the FBI broke protocol when interviewing Michael Flynn
The investigation lasted almost two years, and Mr Mueller said he could not find no evidence of collusion, though he pointedly said he could not clear Mr Trump on accusations of obstruction of justice.
Flynn was to have been sentenced in December 2018, but the hearing was upended when a sharp rebuke from a judge raised the prospect that he might send the former general to prison even though prosecutors hadn’t sought that punishment.
Flynn asked for the hearing to be postponed so he could continue cooperating with the government in hopes of avoiding prison and proving his value as a witness.
But the department of justice opted not to have Flynn testify in the Virginia trial of a former business associate, denying him a chance to be credited for that cooperation.
Flynn is one of a half-dozen Trump associates charged in the Mueller investigation. All six have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty in a jury trial.
Flynn’s lawyers have until January 13 to respond and sentencing is set for January 28.
Additional reporting by Associated Press