WASHINGTON – U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller released new documents on Tuesday outlining his office’s cooperation with Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In the documents, Mueller details how an interaction with Russia over Israeli settlements in the West Bank led to Flynn’s legal troubles and turned him, eventually, into a cooperating witness on the Russia probe.
Mueller asked a federal court in Washington, which is supposed to sentence Flynn for lying to the FBI, not to send the retired general to prison.
Throughout the course of 19 interviews, Flynn has provided “substantial” information to the Russia investigation and to other crimes that could not be made public at the moment, Mueller said.
It was further detailed that Flynn provided "firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials."
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A major part of Mueller’s 13-page document deals with an event from December 2016, during which Flynn contacted the Russian ambassador to the United States and asked him to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.
The vote took place during the transition period between the Obama and Trump administrations. As it became apparent that the Obama administration was going to abstain, Trump’s transition team decided to reach out to Russia and see if it would be willing to veto the resolution.
Despite no mention in the document, the Trump team’s decision to contact Russia was made following requests by senior Israeli officials that they try to intervene.
Flynn, who was at the time slated to become the next national security adviser, was tasked with calling the Russians and asking for their help with the vote, according to Mueller’s filing.
A few weeks later, when Trump was already in the White House, FBI agents came to interview Flynn about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
During that interview, Flynn lied to agents about his contacts with Russian officials during the transition period. He did not mention the December 2016 call about the anti-settlement resolution, and also failed to mention another call he had with the Russian ambassador concerning U.S. sanctions on Russia that were placed by the Obama administration.
Those lies led to Flynn’s early resignation from the White House in February 2017, less than one month after he became national security adviser. They also made him a prime target of Mueller’s investigation.
While telling lies to the FBI can often lead to jail time, Mueller is now asking the courts not to send Flynn to jail because of how cooperative and helpful he has been with regards to the Russia investigation.
Reuters contributed to this report.