You are a grown man!
At least, that’s what it appears special counsel Robert Mueller is saying to former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
So it went like this: Earlier this week, Flynn’s attorneys filed paperwork with the courts, asking that their client receive no jail time for his crimes.
That would likely be fine with special counsel, considering the help he has given them was such that they’ve been willing to cut him a major break.
Unfortunately, Flynn and his attorneys don’t know how to leave well enough alone. They didn’t just ask for no jail time.
The filing also suggested he had been tricked by the FBI into lying to agents in his January 2017 interview. The filing has fed a theory among some conservatives that Flynn had been wrongly led to commit a crime.
C’mon. The man is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General. He can be so easily tricked into saying something that isn’t true, knowing it would get him into trouble?
He can cry now, if he wants to, but Mueller, who has remained relatively quiet in the face of a lot of attacks against his work, as well as his character, is actually clapping back.
“Nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the FBI on January 24,” Mueller wrote in a filing Friday afternoon, asking a federal judge to reject Flynn’s attempt to “minimize the seriousness of those false statements to the FBI.”
“The defendant chose to make false statements about his communications with the Russian ambassador 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,” Mueller wrote.
“When faced with the FBI’s question on January 24, during an interview that was voluntary and cordial, the defendant repeated the same false statements,” he continued. “The Court should reject the defendant’s attempt to minimize the seriousness of those false statements to the FBI.”
This is true. Flynn’s first lie came long before the Russia probe heated up, or before special counsel was appointed.
Flynn made it all of three weeks as national security adviser, before he was forced out of Trump’s administration for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Pence then went on national television to defend Flynn, so he ended up looking like a dope.
Special counsel was appointed in May 2017, and Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017, agreeing to cooperate with the investigation.
The information he has given has been such that special counsel praised his cooperation and asked for the most lenient sentence possible, given the crimes he has pleaded guilty to.
But, however, that doesn’t mean Mueller is going to let his team look like bullies, or that he’s going to let Flynn’s legal team paint his crimes as of no consequence.
Flynn’s attorneys Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony earlier this week portrayed their client as a victim of the FBI agents who interviewed him.
They wrote that the agents “did not provide General Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement” under federal law and cited memos in which agents described Flynn as “unguarded” and viewing “the FBI agents as allies" in the interview.
So he has to be warned not to lie?
How about not lying, for the sake of truth, alone? Shouldn’t that be enough?
One of the FBI agents mentioned in the filings by Flynn’s attorneys was Peter Strzok, the agent that has caught massive amounts of grief for text messages he shared with his mistress, FBI attorney, Lisa Page, that were critical of Donald Trump.
Flynn’s attorneys are asking that the courts consider all of this, while evaluating the seriousness of his crimes.
Meanwhile, Trump has joined the fray, himself, tweeting out on Thursday that the FBI had first told Flynn that he’d done nothing wrong, but that they were “overrode” by somebody. In fact, he tweeted, the FBI officials that interviewed Flynn noted that there were no changes in his posture or tone that would indicate he knew he was lying.
He also went on to suggest that Flynn was offered a lenient sentence from Mueller and company because they were embarrassed by how the FBI treated him.
Mueller said it just isn’t the case. None of it is true.
“A sitting National Security Advisor, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents,” Mueller wrote.
See? That’s what I said!
“He does not need to be warned it is a crime to lie to federal agents to know the importance of telling them the truth.”
That seems like common sense.
“The interviewing agents did not observe indicia of deception and had the impression at that time that the defendant was not lying or did not think he was lying,” Mueller wrote.
“Members of the Presidential Transition Team were likewise misled by the defendant’s false denials. Those misimpressions do not change the fact—as the defendant has admitted in sworn testimony to the District Court—that he was indeed lying, and knowingly made false statements to FBI agents in a national security investigation,” he wrote.
Yeah, it’s kinda hard to wiggle out of the facts.
Flynn’s lawyers asked for something called 302s, which is a summary of the interviews with the FBI.
Mueller provided those, although they were heavily redacted.