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Prosecutors recommend no jail time for cooperative Flynn

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Prosecutors recommend no jail time for cooperative Flynn

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser provided so much information to the special counsel’s Russia investigation that prosecutors say he shouldn’t do any prison time, according to a court filing that describes Michael Flynn’s cooperation as “substantial.”

The filing by special counsel Robert Mueller provides the first details of Flynn’s assistance in the Russia investigation, including that he participated in 19 interviews with prosecutors and cooperated extensively in a separate and undisclosed criminal probe. But the filing’s lengthy redactions also underscore how much Mueller has yet to reveal.

It was filed Tuesday, two weeks ahead of Flynn’s sentencing and just over a year after he became one of five Trump associates to plead guilty in the Russia probe, in his case admitting to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Though prosecutors withheld specific details of Flynn’s cooperation because of ongoing investigations, their filing nonetheless illustrates the breadth of information Mueller has obtained from people close to Trump as the president increasingly vents his anger at the probe — and those who cooperate with it.

This week, Trump accused his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, of making up “stories” to get a reduced prison sentence after pleading guilty to lying to Congress and also praised longtime confidante Roger Stone for saying he wouldn’t testify against Trump.

It’s unclear if Trump will now turn his fury on Flynn, whom Trump bonded with during the 2016 campaign.

Trump has repeatedly lamented how Flynn’s life has been destroyed by the special counsel’s probe. At one point, he tried to protect Flynn by asking former FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into his alleged false statements, according to a memo Comey wrote after the February 2017 encounter.

That episode, which Trump has denied, is among those under scrutiny by Mueller as he probes whether the president attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommend between zero and six months in prison, and Mueller’s office said Flynn’s cooperation merits no prison time.

Prosecutors said Flynn’s early cooperation was “particularly valuable” because he was “one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight” into the events under investigation. They noted his cooperation likely inspired other crucial witnesses to cooperate.

Mueller’s team credited Flynn with serving 33 years in the U.S. Army, including five years in combat. But prosecutors also said the long military and government service that sets him apart from all other defendants in the investigation made his deception more troublesome.

“The defendant’s extensive government service should have made him particularly aware of the harm caused by providing false information to the government, as well as the rules governing work performed on behalf of a foreign government,” they wrote.

Flynn’s case has stood apart from those of other Trump associates, who have aggressively criticized the investigation, sought to undermine it and, in some cases, been accused of lying even after agreeing to cooperate.

Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is accused of repeatedly lying to investigators since his guilty plea. Another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, is serving a 14-day prison sentence and, though he pleaded guilty to the same crime as Flynn, was denied probation because prosecutors said his cooperation was lacking.

But Flynn has largely remained out of the public eye, appearing only sporadically in media interviews or campaign events, and avoided criticizing the Mueller probe despite widespread encouragement from his supporters to go on the offensive. He has instead spent considerable time with his family and worked to position himself for a post-conviction career.

Another highly anticipated filing is expected Friday from Mueller’s office, detailing the lies that prosecutors say Manafort told them after his guilty plea.

In Tuesday’s filing, prosecutors emphasized that the conduct Flynn lied about cuts to the core of the investigation into any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Flynn’s false statements stemmed from a Jan. 24, 2017, interview with the FBI about his interactions with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s then-ambassador to the U.S., as the Obama administration was levying sanctions on the Kremlin in response to election interference.

Mueller’s office blamed Flynn for other senior Trump transition officials making misleading public statements about his contacts with Russia, an assertion that matches the White House’s explanation of Flynn’s firing.

“Several senior members of the transition team publicly repeated false information conveyed to them by the defendant about communications between him and the Russian ambassador regarding the sanctions,” the filing said.

As part of his plea deal, Flynn said members of Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law and White House aide Jared Kushner, were involved in — and at times directing — his actions in the weeks before Trump took office.

According to court papers, in mid-December 2016, Kushner directed Flynn to reach out to several countries, including Russia, about a U.N. Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements. During those conversations with Kislyak, Flynn asked Russia to delay or vote against the resolution, a request the Kremlin ultimately rejected.

Flynn also admitted that later in December 2016 he asked Kislyak not to retaliate in response to the Obama administration sanctions, something he initially told FBI agents he didn’t do. Flynn made the request after discussing it with deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, who was at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and being told that Trump’s transition team did not want Russia to escalate the situation.

Flynn was forced to resign his post on Feb. 13, 2017, after news reports revealed that Obama administration officials had warned the Trump White House about Flynn’s false statements. The White House has said Flynn misled officials— including Vice President Mike Pence — about the content of his conversations.

Flynn also admitted to making false statements about unregistered foreign agent work he performedfor the benefit of the Turkish government, a matter Mueller’s team cited in Tuesday’s filing. Flynn was under investigation by the Justice Department for the work when he became national security adviser.

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Read the court filing: http://apne.ws/CMG15me

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Follow Chad Day and Eric Tucker on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChadSDay and https://twitter.com/etuckerAP

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Entertainment and Sports

As Jussie Smollett story evolves, let’s not give it the Covington Catholic School treatment

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As Jussie Smollett story evolves lets not give it the Covington Catholic School treatment

When a juicy story hits social media, the instant reaction is to run with it and all the implications. That’s the nature of our on-demand, always-on, real-time media world. The only thing faster than hot takes from the first hint of a story are the assumptions made by both sides regardless of the details.

Such is the case with Jussie Smollett, the actor who was allegedly attacked by MAGA-loving bigots. Smollett, a gay man of color, was allegedly targeted on the streets of Chicago, but now reports are coming in that it may have been an elaborate hoax designed to help him save his job on the cast of Empire.

But so far, police have only confirmed that Smollett is still being treated as a victim. Yes, there were two persons of interest questioned by police. Yes, Smollett skipped a voluntary interview with police this morning. Yes, the story was strange from the start and this new narrative seems to match much better regardless of which side of the political or cultural aisle you’re on.

And yet, nothing has been confirmed.


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It’s incumbent on us, whether journalists or simply social media users, to wait for the facts before jumping to conclusions. It works in both directions.

Was it all a hoax? Possibly. Some who are looking at he evidence today and the report released by local Chicago news may come to the conclusion that a hoax was likely. But let’s not assume until the truth is revealed by officials.

 


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Democrats

Democrats push background check bill in the House

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Democrats push background check bill in the House

As social media buzzes about the one-year anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Democrats hope to put their latest iteration of gun control on the floor and onto the Senate. Called a “bipartisan” attempt to initiate more background checks on firearm purchases and sales, many conservatives on Capitol Hill are speaking out against it.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill yesterday.

My Take

Gun control bills, of which this is merely the first to be pushed by the current iteration of Democrats, usually have two things in common. First, they don’t address the problem they’re allegedly trying to solve; neither the Parkland shooting nor any mass shooting in the 21st century would have been prevented had this bill been in place. Second, they are a stepping stone through which leftists will attempt to initiate more draconian laws that eat away at our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.

As with the abortion issue, the gun control issue is one in which “common sense” is used to push harsher laws down the line.

It should be strange to cognizant Americans that Democrats continue to push laws that make it easier to kill preborn babies while making it harder for innocent people to defend themselves with firearms. Are you seeing a trend in their mentality?

 


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Guns and Crime

Freedom-lovers, keep an eye on AG William Barr

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Freedom-lovers keep an eye on AG William Barr

Today, William Barr is likely to be confirmed to be the next Attorney General. While he’s a qualified leader to take the reins over the Justice Department and a strong patriot, there are concerns that we must remember as he joins the Trump administration.

First and foremost, Barr’s record on the 4th Amendment is abysmal.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

One would hope the top law enforcer in the nation would be an ardent defender of the 4th Amendment, but Barr has demonstrated not only a willingness to circumvent it at times but has also expressed annoyance that it prevents law enforcement from doing its job, particularly as it pertains to stopping terrorism. He’s also a fan of the Patriot Act, though if anything it didn’t go far enough.

Sadly, only a tiny handful of Republicans in DC seem to be concerned.

The tribalism that has infected the country and plagued groups on both sides of the political aisle has struck once again. There would be plenty of objections from conservatives if Barr had been nominated by President Obama or another Democrat, but since he’s a Trump nominee it appears he’s going to fly through with no GOP Senators objecting other than Rand Paul.

It’s a shame that the President decided to go with Barr. It’s likely he did so based on Barr’s objections to Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian hacking of the election, but otherwise Barr’s record is one that doesn’t seem very conducive to freedom. We’ll be keeping a close eye on him.

 


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