Special Counsel Robert Mueller has released a memo dated back to January, 2017 detailing Michael Flynn’s interview with the FBI. The interview is seen as one of the pivotal moments in the investigation which led to criminal charges against the former National Security Advisor of the Trump administration. In the memo, Flynn allegedly lied to federal investigators about his contacts with then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition window.
Flynn said that the discussions he had with Kislyak centered on foreign policy but federal investigators later discovered the details of these discussions as explained by Flynn were benign, to say the least. The memo was released on the eve of Flynn’s sentencing for lying to the FBI.
However, due to his cooperation in the Russian probe, it’s very likely he will not face any jail time. The office of the special counsel, in fact, requested a federal judge to consider Flynn’s cooperation in the sentencing and recommended zero jail time for the former National Security Advisor.
President Donald Trump, who has been a sharp critic of the Mueller probe, questioned the way investigators handled Flynn’s interview.
In particular, the president took issue with the fact that Flynn wasn’t notified that lying to the FBI was a crime and that he didn’t have a lawyer present during the interview.
According to Trump, the FBI determined that Flynn didn’t lie the first time they questioned him in the White House, but the recently released memo doesn’t indicate this. In fact, there’s no clear determination by investigators on whether Flynn lied or not.
Another memo that was released last week by the special counsel appeared to suggest the FBI had all the facts regarding Flynn’s conversation with the Russian diplomat even before the interview was conducted. The memo by Mueller described how Flynn downplayed his conversations with Kislyak. The former National Security Advisor had sought the support of Russia in a United Nations Security Council vote about Israeli settlement in Gaza. However, when he spoke to federal investigators, Flynn said that he had actually not sought this support but charging documents that were later acquired by federal investigators proved otherwise.
The second lie was related to an action taken by Barack Obama to expel Russian diplomats and closing down a few of their properties after it emerged how they had tried to influence the election. Call logs acquired by the FBI showed that Flynn asked the Russian diplomat to urge his country not to escalate the matter further. However, when he spoke to federal investigators he said he didn’t have this conversation with Kislyak. All these calls were made around Christmas 2016.
Flynn was a member of the Trump transition team and looked poised to become the next National Security Advisor, but his stay in the White House was short lived, as he resigned barely months after taking over. The Mueller probe has claimed a number of high profile casualties including Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort who pleaded guilty to a number of charges.