US President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn does not deserve jail for lying about his contacts with Russians after Trump’s 2016 election win, his lawyers argued in a memorandum on Tuesday.
In a court filing before his December 18 sentencing in Washington, the lawyers asked that he be sentenced to a maximum of one year on probation, with minimal supervision conditions along with 200 hours of community service.
The request is in line with a recommendation last week from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He said Flynn need not be incarcerated because he has given “substantial” assistance to Mueller’s probe of possible links between Russia and Trump’s election campaign, as well as to other unspecified investigations.
The revelations in Mueller’s sentencing recommendation appeared to place Trump increasingly under threat from the probe, as did court documents filed later that week in the cases against Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and his ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Flynn’s sentencing has been postponed four times over the past year. Those delays indicate that although Flynn was once hostile to the Mueller probe, the retired three-star general had possibly become a valuable witness.
“A term of probation with minimal conditions of supervision is just punishment,” Flynn’s lawyers said in the 178-page memorandum.
The filing included 50 testimonials, many of them from military officers.
In arguing for no prison time, Flynn’s lawyers cited his “extraordinary” army service as well as a lifetime of devotion to family, fellow service members and veterans.
“General Flynn has accepted responsibility for his conduct. He has cooperated extensively with several Department of Justice investigations,” and did so before his guilty plea, the lawyers said.
In total, Flynn met 19 times with the special counsel’s office and others, for almost 63 hours, they said.
Among the falsehoods he admitted to, Flynn lied to the FBI on January 24, 2017, about conversations he had the previous December with Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
While Flynn admits his actions were wrong, his lawyers argued that “a just punishment” must also consider that, prior to their January 24 interview with him, FBI agents did not warn Flynn of the penalties for making a false statement.