As It Happens

Michael Flynn memo shows Mueller has more tricks up his sleeve: former prosecutor

Michael Flynn's sentencing memo proves the Robert Mueller investigation is nowhere near close to wrapping up, says a former federal prosecutor.

'I think there's farther to go than a lot of people had been surmising out there,' says Elie Honig

According to a court filing, former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn, pictured here in 2017, provided substantial assistance to the team working on the Russia probe. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

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Michael Flynn's sentencing memo proves the Robert Mueller investigation is nowhere near close to wrapping up, says a former federal prosecutor. 

U.S. Special Counsel Mueller's office filed a memo in court Tuesday recommending no jail time for former U.S. national security adviser Flynn because he provided so much substantial information to the Russia investigation. 

It was filed two weeks ahead of Flynn's sentencing for lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Donald Trump took office.

Much of the document was redacted, but former federal prosecutor Elie Honig says it contains clues about what may lie ahead in Mueller's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Here is part of his conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off. 

You have compared this Michael Flynn sentencing memo to a movie trailer. What do you mean by that?

Like a good movie trailer, there are hints and clues that this is going to be good. But we don't know exactly what it's got just yet.

But do you think special prosecutor Robert Mueller wanted it to be a tease like that?

I don't think he did it intentionally in order to tease the public.

I think his reason for redacting so heavily was a perfectly sound one, which is anytime you're running an investigation as a prosecutor, you have to maintain the confidentiality and the secrecy of an ongoing investigation.

One of the big revelations we got is that he has several, multiple ongoing criminal investigations.

That, to me, was one of the few revelations in the whole thing.

According to a sentencing memo filed in court, prosecutors say Flynn provided 'firsthand information about content and context of interactions between Trump transition team and Russian government officials.' (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Not just several ongoing investigations, but that Michael Flynn has given "substantial assistance." What does that tell you? 

Substantial assistance is a somewhat common term for co-operators who do their job.

Now, Mueller clearly is a very harsh judge of his co-operators. If anyone goes in there and tries to lie, mess around, to hide the truth, shade the truth, he will cut them loose.

So one thing I took out of this filing is that Mueller is satisfied, thoroughly, that Flynn was honest and forthcoming with him.

And I think that tells you something, because Mueller is extremely careful. He only commits to positions that he knows he can support with hard evidence.

The main thrust of the investigation ... is this Russian election interference and the possible collusion with the Trump administration. What could Michael Flynn have shared with the Mueller commission to that end?

Another important clue that we get from yesterday's filing is that Flynn, in fact, did provide Mueller some information about what Mueller calls "links" or "co-ordination" between Russia and the Trump campaign — what we sometimes call collusion.

Clearly, Flynn did have something. Specifically what that is, we don't know.

What I do keep going back to, though, is remember how highly placed Michael Flynn was in the campaign. He had a prominent role in the campaign and in the convention, where he made his infamous "Lock her up" speech.

He was the national security adviser ... for about three weeks or so. That is inner-inner circle stuff. And so Flynn would have been in a position to know the inner workings of the Trump campaign and early days of the administration.

Would he have also known about the WikiLeaks release of the Clinton memos and the Clinton information from the Democrats?

I've not seen Michael Flynn's name connected to any of that just yet.

But look, there is this one ... mystery investigation that's referenced in the filing, and it's almost fully redacted. It's something like 30 lines of redaction with a couple of words, saying "there is another investigation."

Special counsel Robert Mueller, pictured here in 2017, is known for being methodical in his investigations, says a former federal prosecutor. (The Associated Press)

What does this memo about Michael Flynn ... tell you about the strategy of Robert Mueller?

First of all, it tells me I think there's farther to go than a lot of people had been surmising out there. I heard a lot of people saying we're in the ninth inning and he's getting ready to wrap up.

I don't think you can possibly look at this memo and draw that conclusion. There are still multiple investigations that are ongoing. Those take a while to wrap up.

And if they result in arrests, then you're going to have the whole criminal process behind those people, which takes months or even ... years.

The other thing is Mueller, true to form, is being systematic. He's building his case brick by brick, and he doesn't put something in a court filing or an indictment unless he's got it locked down.

I think we see that continuing with Flynn. I think we can see some more pieces or potential pieces coming into focus now, and I think we'll see more later this week with the filings on [former Trump lawyer] Michael Cohen and [former Trump campaign chair] Paul Manafort.

Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC News and Associated Press. Produced by Kate Swoger. 


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