After the Flynn sentencing memo, it appears that there is no question Mueller has evidence that the Trump campaign was in illegal contact with Russia. See Mueller says Michael Flynn gave ‘first-hand’ details of Trump transition team contacts with Russians. In his court filing, Mueller said thatÂ Flynn’s “substantial assistance” earned him a light criminal sentence, which could include no jail time.
And what does Byron York,Â chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner, take from this? According to York, the light sentence recommendation is proof that Flynn really wasn’t guilty of all that much. The whole Mueller investigation is “fishy,” says York.
But it gets better. The Fox News crew has decided that the court filing reveals Mueller’s got nothin’ on Trump because it doesn’t contain the word collusion. One wonders how these people manage to function without a team of body servants to be sure they are dressed and don’t walk into walls. Gregg Jarrett of Fox News went so far as to declare that Mueller “strikes out trying to nail Trump.”
Back to the court filing — Greg Sargent writes,
The big takeaway from special counsel Robert S. Mueller IIIâ€™sÂ new sentencing memo for Michael FlynnÂ is that it underscores howÂ littleÂ we know about what Mueller has learned. It says President Trumpâ€™s former national security adviser has provided â€œsubstantial assistanceâ€ to Mueller, notes that he sat for 19 interviews and says heâ€™s cooperating not just with the Russia probe but also with a separate criminal investigation that is not named.
But, by tantalizingly hinting at just how much help Flynn may have provided â€” and by sketching out the barest outline of the areas in which he offered this help â€” the memo also underscores the likelihood that Trump obstructed justice when he leaned on then-FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn.
Andrew Prokop writes at Vox that there are four big takeaways — One, Mueller is happy with Flynn’s cooperation. Two, Flynn is cooperating in three separate investigations, and we don’t yet know what those are.
Third, the cooperation Flynn provided to Muellerâ€™s probe specifically appears to break down into two main areas. One focused on contacts between the Trump transition team and Russia, but we donâ€™t know what the other one is yet.
Finally, the many redactions indicate that thereâ€™s still a whole lot going on behind the scenes that Mueller doesnâ€™t yet want the public to know about.
In other words, the righties are crowing because they assume that anything Mueller doesn’t explicitly spell out in the court filing doesn’t exist. Did I mention the sentencing memo was heavily redacted?
Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare provide more details on the takeaways.
It seems that Flynn is cooperating in at least three ongoing investigations: a criminal investigation about which all details are redacted; Muellerâ€™s investigation into â€œany links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trumpâ€; and at least one additional investigation about which all information is redacted.
As BuzzFeed Newsâ€™s Chris Geidner noted, it appears likely from the length of the redaction bar that the first criminal investigation is not a matter being conducted by the special counselâ€™s officeâ€”though, of course, itâ€™s impossible to know for certain.
We don’t know that any of this will lead to a direct connection between Trump and the Russians, but the obstruction case just got a lot stronger.Â Back to Greg Sargent:
Muellerâ€™s memo contains a section claiming Flynn provided â€œfirsthand informationâ€ about â€œinteractionsâ€ between the Trump â€œtransition team and Russian government officials.â€ Itâ€™s not clear who this refers to other than Flynn, but the memo does say Flynn provided information on his own contacts with Russia, noting, significantly, that Flynn represented the â€œtransition teamâ€ at the time. The memo then claims Flynn provided â€œuseful information.â€ But much of it is redacted, suggesting Flynn has told MuellerÂ a lotÂ about this chain of events.
It seems like ancient history now, but Comeyâ€™s claim that Trump pressured him over Flynn is worth revisiting in light of these new revelations.
Before firing Comey, Trump leaned on Comey to drop his investigation into Flynn, you’ll remember.
Trump asked everyone but Comey to leave, and then repeatedly told Comey that Flynn â€œhadnâ€™t done anything wrongâ€ in his phone call to the Russian ambassador. …
… We have now learned that Flynn provided Mueller a great deal of information about this call and about the events surrounding it. This increases the likelihood that Trump leaned on Comey to drop the investigation into Flynn not because he thought Flynn was a â€œgood guyâ€ but because TrumpÂ knew Flynn had a lot to disclose on these matters. Which in turn provides a motive for Trump to try to derail the investigation into him, perhaps with â€œcorrupt intent.â€
This is speculation, but at least it’s informed and intelligent speculation.
â€œThis memo suggests Flynn has provided a great deal of information about Russian contacts with members of Trumpâ€™s team,â€ Randall D. Eliason, who teaches white-collar crime at George Washington University Law School, told me. â€œThe more Flynn knew about those contacts, the more motive the president would have had to try to keep that information under wraps by getting the Flynn investigation shut down.â€