Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Flynn testimony raises the stakes for Trump

AFP, WASHINGTON

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared increasingly under threat from the Russia collusion probe after a court filing revealed that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, cooperated extensively in multiple high-level investigations during the past year.

A sentencing recommendation late on Tuesday from Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Flynn spend no time in jail explained that the retired three-star general had given “substantial assistance” to his and other secret, high-level investigations.

Underscoring the level of cooperation, the filing in the federal court in Washington spelled out that Flynn had been interviewed 19 times over the past year — during which his sentencing for one charge of lying to investigators had been postponed four times.

“Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted,” Mueller said in a memorandum to the court.

That came on the heels of Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitting in a court filing last week that he had been in contact with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin well into the 2016 presidential campaign about obtaining a green light to develop a 100-story Trump Tower in Moscow.

Cohen made clear that, contrary to the president’s previous denials, he had informed Trump and members of his family about the project throughout the first half of 2016, even after Trump had secured the Republican presidential nomination.

Taken together, the two cases added to the evidence that Mueller is building a case that there were frequent and possibly systematic communications between Trump’s inner circle and Moscow ahead of the November 2016 presidential election that could bolster charges of perjury or even conspiracy to collude with the Russians.

After having condemned Cohen as a liar and saying he deserved a “full and complete” jail sentence, Trump was notably silent about the implications of what Flynn might have told investigators.

Flynn was a top-level insider in the 2016 campaign, accompanying Trump to key events and making a keynote speech at the Republican National Convention.

He then took hold of national security policy in the White House in Trump’s first weeks in office.

The sentencing memorandum from Mueller gave no hint of what the former US Defense Intelligence Agency director has said.

It said that he cooperated on questions regarding Mueller’s examination of actions by senior officials of Trump’s transition team between the election and the inauguration on Jan. 20 last year.

That was the period in which Flynn repeatedly had secret telephone discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak that he later lied about, which led to his early expulsion from the White House and then to charges he lied to Mueller’s investigators.

However, in a heavily redacted addendum to Tuesday’s memorandum, Mueller said that Flynn was helping on two other investigations, at least one not in his hands.

That could be an ominous signal for Trump, said US Representative Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“That most of the details are redacted signals he has given far more than we or the President may know,” Schiff wrote on Twitter.

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