Trump Wants The Mueller Investigation Over By fresh Year's. It Won't Be.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to making misleading statements, but his sentencing is being delayed while he cooperates — a sign that the special counsel probe won’t be over by the halt of the year, opposite to President Donald Trump’s reported predictions.
Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making misleading statements to the FBI in January. As portion of the plea deal Flynn reached with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, Flynn agreed to cooperate with the government, with the understanding that whether he’s helpful, prosecutors will put a question to the judge to consider a reduced sentence.
Flynn agreed to delay his sentencing until his cooperation is total. When asked by the judge on Friday how much time the government wanted before they filed an update with the court, the special counsel prosecutor suggested three months — which would recede into March 2018. The judge, however, set a due date of Feb. 1 for a status report.
The 2018 date undermines assertions by both Trump and White House lawyer Ty Cobb in recent weeks that Mueller’s probe would finish and Trump would be exonerated by the halt of the 2017 or, per Cobb, by the halt of the year or soon after, as reported by the Washington Post. It’s not even guaranteed that Flynn’s cooperation will halt by Feb. 1 — that’s just the date when prosecutors occupy to update the court. The government could then put a question to for more time.
Cobb said in a statement on Friday that, “The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with sum planned speed and clears the way for a immediate and fair conclusion.”
The White House this descend has downplayed the anticipated duration of the special counsel’s work. When the first round of charges stemming from Mueller’s office were announced in late October — against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Manafort’s longtime associate Rick Gates, and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos — White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that they expected the probe to “conclude soon.”
But at that point, there were indications that the investigation was far from over. At a sealed plea hearing for Papadopoulos on Oct. 5 — he pleaded guilty to one count of making misleading statements — special counsel prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky described the investigation as “large-scale” and said that Papadopoulos’ case was “a small portion,” according to a transcript.
A sentencing date hasn’t been set yet for Papadopoulos. Zelinsky said at the Oct. 5 hearing that Papadopoulos was cooperating with the investigation, and his plea deal, like Flynn’s, includes a section stating that his sentencing may be delayed while he’s working with Mueller’s team. The lawyers are scheduled to check in with the court by phone on Jan. 22.
Flynn agreed to “cooperate fully, truthfully, totally, and forthrightly” with Mueller’s office and other law enforcement authorities on “any and sum things” that the special counsel’s office considers relevant. His cooperation could include interviews, giving written statements, taking a polygraph exam, and participating in undercover law enforcement activities, according to the plea agreement.
He’s required to turn over evidence of any crimes that he’s aware of, and to testify before grand juries or at trial whether the special counsel’s office believes he has relevant testimony.
notice Lee, a white collar defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said that with a cooperator as high up in the chain as Flynn, Mueller’s team will be taking the time to get certain they’ve learned sum they can from him, as well as to refer to with him on any information they’re getting from interviews with other individuals and other evidence.
“You are going to occupy to conclude sum of your diligence to get certain you’re checking what Mr. Flynn knew against what other witnesses told you, the other information, and objective evidence,” Lee said. “It could be a lengthy process.”