Mueller Claims Flynn Gave “First-Hand” Details About Trump Transition Team’s Contact With Russian Officials — But What Part of That is Illegal?
Flynn lied to the FBI (a charge to which he pled guilty), but the same question remains — what part of Mueller’s latest “get” is illegal?
According to a sentencing memo published Tuesday night, Michael Flynn gave Special Counselor Mueller “first hand” details of contacts between Trump’s presidential transition team and Russian government officials.
Because of Flynn’s cooperation, Mueller has recommended a light criminal sentence.
More from CNBC:
Mueller in a sentencing memo said Flynn’s “substantial assistance” to his probe warrants a light criminal sentence — which could include no jail time for the retired Army lieutentant [sic] general.
That assistance, which includes 19 interviews with Mueller’s team and Justice Department attorneys, related to a previsouly [sic] unknown “criminal investigation,” as well as to Mueller’s long-running probe of the Trump campaign’s and transition team’s links or coordination with the Russian government.
“The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials,” the memo says.
…Trump’s ex-national security advisor is due to be sentenced Dec. 18 in U.S. District Court in Washington.
He pleaded guilty last December to a single count of lying to federal agents about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition in late 2016.
The memo (embedded and linked beneath) is almost completely redacted. The portions available to the public indicate Flynn cooperated on contacts between transition team and Russians — but since when is that illegal?
Professor Jacobson has blogged extensively about Mueller’s investigation, which was ordained as an investigation into alleged election interference but grew into a limitless probe under the guise of certain collusion (which has yet to be proved publicly). From Jacobson’s post in December of 2017:
Michael Flynn pleaded guilty last week to lying to FBI investigators regarding conversations Flynn had with the Russian Ambassador in late December 2016, barely three weeks before the Trump administration was sworn into office.
Such transitions contact with foreigners are routine, and took place during prior administrations, including the Obama administration. That makes perfect sense, since an incoming administration needs to hit the ground running with its foreign policy. Certainly there would have been howls of outrage from the media and Democrats had the incoming Trump administration waited until after the inauguration to make contact with our primary geo-political foes; it would have been portrayed as a sign of incompetence and amateurishness.
There was nothing illegal about Flynn speaking with the Russian ambassador and others. But he ran afoul of the law when he lied about it to the FBI.
It is clear from the prosecution of Flynn that Mueller views the transition as within the scope of Mueller’s investigation, otherwise there would have been no reason for Mueller to prosecute Flynn. The lying took place before Mueller was appointed and did not concern conversations during the Trump campaign. For lying to the FBI when he did, Flynn could have been prosecuted by DOJ itself.
Yet Mueller’s team took it on themselves to prosecute the case involving a crime (lying) that took place after the new administration was sworn in regarding a conversation during the transition. The public documents regarding Flynn’s plea make clear that the transition is in focus.
If news reports have any credibility (and they may not), then Mueller is investigating the political actions of the Trump transition team during the transition period.
What authority, however, gives Mueller power to investigate the political strategies of the incoming Trump administration long after the election was over? It does not appear that Mueller has that power under the Order appointing him as Special Counsel.
The media mocks Trump for calling Meuller’s investigation a “witch hunt,” but so long as Mueller keeps chasing leads off the reservation, he only lends credit to such accusations.
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