Washington (AFP) - Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor in charge of the Russia election meddling probe, recommended Tuesday that President Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn face no jail time due to his "substantial" cooperation with the investigation.
Mueller said in a court document that Flynn, who admitted last year to lying about his contacts with Russians in the weeks after Trump's November 2016 election victory, had helped in his and other unspecified federal criminal investigations, including being interviewed 19 times.
In a memorandum to a Washington federal court on Flynn's upcoming sentencing, Mueller also said that despite his "serious" offense, the retired three-star general and former Pentagon intelligence chief had a strong record of military and public service.
"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," the filing said.
The special counsel had postponed Flynn's sentencing four times over the course of a year, suggesting that he had become a valuable witness.
Flynn's was the first guilty plea secured by the Muller investigation into alleged collusion between Trump's election campaign and Russia.
In an interview with investigators on January 24, 2017, four days after Trump's inauguration, Flynn lied to investigators about conversations he had the previous December with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, in which Flynn appeared to be trying to undermine the policy of then-President Barack Obama.
Obama at the time was planning sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 election.
Within weeks, Flynn was forced to resign after it was alleged that he lied to top White House officials as well about his Kislyak talks.
Then in March 2018, in a second interview with the FBI, Flynn also lied about the fact that before and after the election he had a $500,000 lobbying contract on behalf of Turkey that he had not reported.
The sentencing memorandum gave no hint as to what Flynn had told the Mueller team about the operations of the Trump campaign and its Russia contacts.
But as an insider in the campaign and a key go-between with Russian officials, he could have provided significant material.
An addendum to the memorandum was heavily redacted, suggesting that Flynn not only aided Mueller but also other federal criminal investigations not yet public.
Those potentially could include an examination of Trump's financial ties to Russia through his real estate business.