Former Trump campaign surrogate, advisor and National Security Advisor (for less than a month) Michael Flynn pled guilty today to 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1001, false statements to a federal agent, a felony. The agreement, worked out between his lawyers and the Government, requires him to cooperate with investigators working for Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed earlier this year by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Rumors in the past two weeks that Flynn’s lawyers were in negotiations with the Special Counsel to reach some kind of deal, especially once his lawyers notified the White House that they could no longer share information with the White House about their client’s case.
Why would Flynn plead guilty? First, Flynn may have committed more crimes which the Special Counsel, by the plea, has agreed not to pursue through criminal charges. So this may be a good deal on its face. In addition, there may be a tacit understanding that, by plead guilty, Flynn’s son, who is, it must be said, not the brightest bulb and may himself have committed crimes, will not be prosecuted. Dad may be taking the heat off the son.
Assuming his cooperation satisfies the Special Counsel, the Special Counsel may agree to recommend a USSG Sec. 5k1.1 downward departure to the sentencing judge.
18 USC Sec. 1001 prohibits lying to a federal agent. The punishment: up to 5 years in prison.
It is unlikely that Flynn would get any time in prison, especially if he is cooperative, even if he doesn’t provide substantial assistance worthy of a 5k1.1. motion.
Today is a remarkable day. Two of Trump’s top advisors – his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and now Mike Flynn – have pled guilty in federal court. Manafort pled guilty to crimes committed apart from his campaign work. Trump has pled guilty to campaign-related activity.