Flynn memo ‘good news’ for Trump say House con­ser­va­tives

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Grif­fin Con­nolly

WASH­ING­TON — After spe­cial coun­sel Robert S. Mueller III rec­om­mended no prison time for for­mer Don­ald Trump of­fi­cial Michael Flynn on Tues­day, House con­ser­va­tives chalked up the lat­est episode in the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion as a win for the pres­i­dent.

“I think it’s good news for Pres­i­dent Trump tonight, that this is what it’s come down to,” Rep. Mark Mead­ows told Fox News’ Sean Han­nity about the heav­ily redacted sen­tenc­ing rec­om­men­da­tion me­moran­dum the spe­cial coun­sel filed Tues­day night.

“Even though they said he sub­stan­tially co­op­er­ated, I think he sub­stan­tially co­op­er­ated to say that there was no col­lu­sion and we can look at it with that in mind,” said Mead­ows, the chair­man of the hard­line con­ser­va­tive House Free­dom Cau­cus.

Pros­e­cu­tors com­mended Flynn, a re­tired three-star gen­eral in the U.S. Army, for “ac­cept­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity in a timely fash­ion” for ly­ing to the FBI about con­ver­sa­tions he had with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to the U.S. dur­ing Trump’s tran­si­tion to the White House and then “sub­stan­tially as­sist­ing the gov­ern­ment” after he pleaded guilty last De­cem­ber.

Flynn at­tended 19 meet­ings with the spe­cial coun­sel and handed over doc­u­ments and com­mu­ni­ca­tions that helped pros­e­cu­tors track down leads in mul­ti­ple in­ves­ti­ga­tions, they wrote in Tues­day’s memo.

Many le­gal ex­perts be­lieve those in­ves­ti­ga­tions could im­pli­cate the pres­i­dent’s son-in­law and se­nior White House ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner, as well as other of­fi­cials on the Trump tran­si­tion team after he won the 2016 elec­tion but be­fore he took the oath of of­fice.

Trump’s fiercest de­fend­ers in the House down­played — or out­right dis­missed — the memo’s im­pli­ca­tions for the pres­i­dent.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Flor­ida said Mueller’s le­nient sen­tenc­ing rec­om­men­da­tion re­flected a dou­ble stan­dard com­pared to when Trump al­legedly urged for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey to “see your way clear to let­ting this go, to let­ting Flynn go” be­cause “he is a good guy.”

“Robert Mueller has es­sen­tially said to the court, ‘Lay off of Mike Flynn, he’s a good guy,’” Gaetz told Han­nity. “If Trump said the same thing to (for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James) Comey, they ap­par­ently want to throw him in jail for it and it shows the dou­ble stan­dard.”

Mead­ows said he hopes Tues­day’s memo is “the be­gin­ning of the end” for the spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion, in­clud­ing its con­tacts with Trump cam­paign and tran­si­tion of­fi­cials.

“If this is the best we’ve got com­ing out of Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, it is time that he writes the re­port, closes it out, and let the Amer­i­can peo­ple fo­cus on what is im­por­tant to them,” Mead­ows said.

Democrats, and most le­gal an­a­lysts, did not draw the same con­clu­sions as Mead­ows and Gaetz. Flynn’s “sub­stan­tial” co­op­er­a­tion with the spe­cial coun­sel in­stead in­di­cates that he pointed them in the di­rec­tion of other pos­si­ble crimes com­mit­ted by the pres­i­dent or mem­bers of his in­ner cir­cle.

“We now have two ma­jor play­ers in Trump’s in­ner cir­cle — his long­time per­sonal lawyer and fixer, Michael Co­hen, and his Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser, Michael Flynn, pro­vid­ing sub­stan­tial co­op­er­a­tion to Robert Mueller,” Demo­cratic Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal of Con­necti­cut tweeted Tues­day.

Those facts, Blu­men­thal added, open up the ques­tion of why Flynn took the il­le­gal steps he did.

Demo­cratic Rep. Ted Lieu, a for­mer prose­cu­tor, said he thought Mueller’s le­niency for Flynn was a sig­nal to oth­ers that if they co­op­er­ate with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they might get sim­i­lar treat­ment.

OLIVIER DOULIERY/ ABACA PRESS FILE PHO­TO­GRAPH

Michael Flynn at­tends a news con­fer­ence on Feb. 10, 2017, at the White House in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

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