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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(OPEN THREAD) Once Special Counsel Robert Mueller files his sentencing memo in the Michael Flynn case, I'll begin live-tweeting information about and analysis of the memo in this thread. I hope you'll follow along and share this link with any others you think might be interested.
1/ I won't cover the background of the Trump-Flynn relationship in this thread. Flynn advised Trump from August 2015 through his firing in February 2017, and Trump was in contact with him until at least April 2017. All this is covered in PROOF OF COLLUSION—link in my Twitter bio.
2/ I'm also going to assume readers have some basic familiarity with the scope of Flynn's collusive ties to Russia, Turkey, and several Middle Eastern nations. I'll certainly readdress these topics as necessary, but again, I leave it to PROOF OF COLLUSION to do the heavy lifting.
3/ I've written before that Flynn *should* be—based on the reams of public evidence we have in the Trump-Russia case—the single most valuable witness Robert Mueller has on Trump-Russia collusion (though there are many others—like Bannon, Prince, Kushner, and Cohen—who are close).
4/ What we don't know is to what extent Mueller is willing to show his hand in this memo, which has—relatively speaking—fairly minor stakes, given there's only one charge and (if Flynn cooperated fully) Mueller might not be seeking much time. He *won't* want to harm future cases.
5/ A big question everyone is asking is to what extent Pence is implicated in this. I've historically said that Pence successfully kept himself apart from most of the Trump-Russia wrongdoing *because*—apart from a few clear lies to the media—that's what the public evidence shows.
6/ For instance, during the final week of December 2016, while Flynn was illegally negotiating with the Israelis and Russians, he was regularly calling K.T. McFarland and the rest of the Presidential Transition Team at Mar-a-Lago. Where was Mike Pence? In Indiana... at a wedding.
7/ @Isikoff is now on MSNBC saying Flynn mostly has information on obstruction rather than collusion, and that Flynn being sentenced now means that Mueller doesn't plan on criminally charging anyone Flynn has fingered. For too many reasons to count, I disagree with both analyses.
8/ This is the case of the century—the most complex, far-ranging, historically significant federal criminal investigation of any of our lifetimes. I've no idea why anyone in or out of journalism is applying usual conventions, timelines or expectations to how Mueller must proceed.
9/ A "normal" Special Counsel wouldn't be under constant threat of firing; a "normal" Special Counsel wouldn't be worrying about severe national security implications to any delay; wouldn't have special reason to try to get information to the public in advance of a formal report.
10/ The usual rule of not sentencing anyone in federal court until they've testified against everyone they're going to testify against can't be applied when your target is someone you can't indict, and when your secondary targets are family members of the target—who can fire you.
11/ I'd also note that if the Whitewater probe could go on for a total of 7 or 8 years, the *entirety* of the Russia investigation could theoretically go on at *least* as long—and no one anywhere thinks a federal judge would let Mike Flynn's sentencing dangle for years and years.
12/ Those are just a few of the reasons we ought not read into this sentencing happening when it is that Flynn *hasn't* laid the groundwork for any future Russia-related indictments besides—at most, per Isikoff—a Trump-Russia collusion report fingering Trump himself as complicit.
13/ As for the claim Flynn can mainly speak to obstruction rather than collusion, well.... that's bonkers. Anyone who reads PROOF OF COLLUSION knows that Flynn is critical to collusion and in fact plays a relatively minor role (compared to several other witnesses) in obstruction.
14/ Note too—and any federal prosecutor will tell you this—that a federal prosecutor has many means to ensure a witness who's already been convicted testifies under oath (see the hint I just gave regarding one method!) consistent with what they've previously said to prosecutors.
15/ As anticipation for the imminent release of the Mueller memo on Flynn reaches a fevered pitch, I just want to point out again that with a sentencing range of zero to six months on a single 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(2) count, Mueller doesn't actually have to release *that* much info.
16/ In fact I'd look at it in the opposite way: *if* Mueller *does* release a large amount of new info—*whether or not it's redacted material*—it suggests either (a) he wants six months from Flynn and thinks it'll be hard to get, or (b) he's releasing the info for another reason.
17/ BREAKING: Robert Mueller says Flynn should get no jail-time because he provided the government with "substantial assistance."
18/ MUELLER: "Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range—including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration—is appropriate and warranted."

This is very bad news for Trump.
19/ Flynn met with Mueller 19 times during his year of cooperation.
20/ Flynn cooperated in at least one criminal investigation against a person whose name is redacted.
21/ Here is the link to the memo. More analysis coming.…
22/ Parts of the memo are under seal because they pertain to ongoing investigations. This confirms my earlier statement that in fact there are people fingered by Flynn who are still being investigated and may well be prosecuted.
23/ The memo notes lies Flynn told about contacts with Russia, Israel, and Turkey. I won't rehash the basics of the Flynn allegations here (as they are rehashed in the sentencing memo), as if you're reading this you probably read the criminal information Flynn pleaded guilty to.
24/ The good stuff (much redacted) is in the addendum to the filing. Beginning to read that now.
25/ Mueller confirms that Flynn aided the collusion investigation. And as I've said on the feed many times, those who said Flynn being sentenced meant no one else would be charged due to his cooperation were *wrong*. Mueller makes that perfectly clear. Glad that canard has ended.
26/ The redactions are EXTREME. There are MANY redactions. Whole paragraphs MISSING. And based upon what precedes them, those paragraphs would appear to be about (a) ongoing (b) collusion investigations (c) that could lead to further charges of other individuals down the line.
27/ To be clear, though, the greatest number of redactions—an entire section of the document—are from an investigation OTHER than the Special Counsel's investigation, which is clearly a criminal investigation. We don't know who the target is—but it seems to NOT be Russia-related.
28/ Flynn told Mueller about interactions between members of the Presidential Transition Team and Russia. What's odd about that is that presumably "members" means people other than himself.
29/ I should amend my earlier comment to say the LONGEST redaction IS about the Mueller collusion investigation. After Mueller writes of what Flynn told him about his own (Flynn's) contact with Russia, MANY paragraphs are redacted. That would be *others'* contact with Russians.
30/ We know Kushner had contact with Russians during the transition. But of course it says Presidential Transition Team—so Mueller is focusing on a roster of people more than he is a particular time-frame per se. But it's clear some uncharged transition folks had Russia contacts.
31/ Here's the key: Mueller wasn't really asking for Flynn to do time, so he had no *reason* to reveal anything really significant here—that is, he didn't have to *convince* the judge of anything by writing about all the bad things Flynn did or told him/his team that others did.
32/ So here's my takeaway:

1. Others on the transition team *besides* Flynn had contact with the Russians.
2. One of (possibly many) topics Flynn discussed with Mueller over 19 meetings was those contacts.
3. Those contacts are now part of an ongoing criminal investigation.
33/ This will cause people to ask the question (answered in PROOF OF COLLUSION), "Which members of the transition had contact with the Russians?" One interesting question is whether Erik Prince is being counted as a member of the Presidential Transition Team—I'd say likely *not*.
34/ But the *other* thing people will note is that presumably Mueller feels some of the contacts people on the Presidential Transition Team besides Flynn had with the Russians were either in themselves criminal or else key elements of a criminal offense. That's significant news.
35/ The guy who should be most scared by this filing is...

...Jared Kushner.

No surprise there—I've long said that he (along with Trump, Bannon, Prince, Trump Jr., and one or two others) is likely a top-level target in the Mueller investigation.

Jared did some very bad things.
36/ What this memo and addendum *doesn't* do is give a full accounting of Flynn's bad acts, so I think many people will *falsely* assume that all his bad behavior involved the transition because that's all Mueller—unredacted, at least—focused upon. But that'd be a bad assumption.
37/ As I noted in this thread and on the feed this afternoon, Mueller didn't *really* have to do much heavy lifting in this filing, so there was no need for him to be exhaustive. And—redactions included—I doubt he was anything like exhaustive. But the biggest thing we learned...
38/ that, YET AGAIN, all those claiming that the Mueller investigation is almost over were WRONG. I've said it loudly and often every time stories get written about how close we are to done, and I'm saying it loudly again: DISBELIEVE those stories. We have a LONG way to go.
39/ The redactions in the filing—and the language we were able to see—makes clear Flynn a) told Mueller a *lot* and b) *much* of what Flynn told Mueller (possibly even most of it) is still in use in ongoing criminal investigations—presumably of people above him on the food chain.
40/ I have to say, this feed was pretty dead on about certain folks being *far* too conservative in estimating how this probe will play out. It's almost over? Nope. Flynn being sentenced means his information won't lead to new indictments? Wrong. So this is a bad day for Trump.
41/ That said, what none of this gives us is any indication of *how much* time is left or of *which* individuals above Flynn in the hierarchy are still in substantial legal peril. But I've already given you my (partial) list:

Trump Jr.
42/ I'll say again—and I know this will disappoint some folks—that I don't believe, based on the evidence I saw in writing PROOF OF COLLUSION and since, that Mike Pence will be on the indictment list. I think he was a bad actor but at a sub-criminal level. We'll see if I'm right.
43/ I'll make another point: this was *also* a good night for the ignorant Trumpists who understand absolutely nothing about the criminal justice system or the Trump-Russia case but are passionately *certain* Trump did nothing wrong and this is all a "hoax." They're emboldened...
44/ ...because even though the experts told them otherwise, they can now *pretend* they were *promised* a bombshell, and Mueller instead doing what any good prosecutor would do in this instance—redact a lot and say *only* what he must—is somehow proof of "no collusion." It's sad.
45/ As I hope I've shown in this thread, though, it's in the negative space of this filing we find the information we want: we have a *long* way to go; there are people presumably above Flynn who are likely to be indicted over collusion; Flynn *did indeed* "have a story to tell."
46/ And let's again be clear: the lack of content here—redacted or not—means *nothing at all* for the Russia investigation. When you're a prosecutor who, *like the defendant*, is basically asking for no jail, you *don't really have to make a case*. It's like an intentional walk.
47/ But there are *many* myths that went down in flames here. Would you believe people like Dershowitz said Flynn was only charged with one count of 18 USC 1001(a)(2) because he did nothing else wrong? But Mueller was clear tonight—Flynn was rewarded for timeliness *and content*.
48/ So while we learned basically nothing specific tonight, we learned a *lot* about which broader claims made in the media and elsewhere are true or likely and which are untrue or unlikely. I'm happy to say this feed is fully on the true-and-likely side of that equation tonight.
49/ I just turned on the television and began watching Rachel Maddow. She reads this Mueller filing as suggesting Flynn is assisting with three distinct investigations—and I think that's fair, though the level of connection between these investigations is very much still unclear.
50/ Rachel also rightly notes that *Mueller* notes that Flynn's cooperation convinced *others* to cooperate—and the list of those who could fall into that category ranges from Clovis to Bannon, Nader to Page. So it can nevermore be said that Flynn isn't a *major* Mueller witness.
CONCLUSION/ Flynn told Mueller a lot. Gave him documents and more. Helped (implicitly) convince others to talk to Mueller. And Mueller believes what Flynn told him. And there's a long way to go on collusion—including more indictments of (it seems) major figures. Stay tuned. /end
PS/ Could the third—apparently non-criminal—investigation Mueller refers to in the filing (with tons of redactions) be an impeachment referral? Not hearing people mention that—but it's a real possibility. There's *no way* Flynn met with Mueller 19 times on Obstruction of Justice.
PS2/ A few additional, maybe obvious points: nineteen Mueller-Flynn cooperation meetings adds up to a *lot* more info than even all the redactions in the filing. Whatever Mueller wrote that we can't see is only the tiniest fraction of what Flynn gave him during those 19 meetings.
PS3/ Trump has publicly gone ballistic over Manafort. He's publicly gone ballistic over Stone. He's publicly gone ballistic over Cohen. And yet he has little, it seems, to say on Flynn. One guess as to why is that he thinks it's Kushner who is most exposed by Flynn's cooperation.
PS4/ To be clear, I *absolutely* believe Flynn gave Mueller information that is deeply damaging to Trump. But it may be that Flynn often dealt with Trump through an intermediary (e.g., Kushner) and Trump wrongly thinks that that insulates him a *bit* from Flynn-related liability.
PS5/ A reader also noted the word "longtime" in the filing, which would suggest that Mueller is *acutely* aware that Flynn didn't just come aboard after Election Day, but was, as I've said here and in PROOF OF COLLUSION, a shadow NatSec adviser for Trump beginning in August 2015.
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