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Special Counsel: Flynn Provided 'Substantial' Help To Probe


President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn has provided substantial help to the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That is why prosecutors say Flynn deserves leniency when he's sentenced later this month. NPR national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been following the case, and she joins us now to talk more about it. Hey, Carrie.


CHANG: All right, so Michael Flynn pleaded guilty about a year ago. And since then, he's kind of disappeared from the headlines. What do we learn that's new in tonight's court filing?

JOHNSON: Prosecutors say Michael Flynn, the former Trump national security adviser, has been cooperating fully almost since they first reached out to him in 2017. Remember; he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI after agents interviewed him inside the White House in January 2017.

CHANG: Right.

JOHNSON: Since then, the government says he's offered firsthand accounts of the interactions between the Trump transition team and Russian government officials, including the former ambassador to Russia, Sergey - the former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn has also sat for 19 interviews with...

CHANG: Nineteen.

JOHNSON: ...The special counsel...


JOHNSON: ...And others at the Justice Department. And authorities said tonight he's helped with another criminal investigation, but all of the details on that investigation have been blacked out. They're redacted. They're still secret.

CHANG: OK. So last year, Flynn said he lied about a couple of very sensitive matters. Do we now have any more information about who else may have known about those lies at the time?

JOHNSON: A little bit, not a lot. Flynn lasted only a month in the White House. Depending on whom you believe...

CHANG: Right.

JOHNSON: ...He either resigned under pressure or was fired because he lied to the vice president and other people. Those lies, remember, were about contacts with Russia in late 2016 over Obama's sanctions on Russia, for interfering in the election and another move to help Israel. The new court document tonight is tantalizing but not entirely clear. The document says several people on the transition repeated false information Flynn gave them about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. But the next sentence is redacted, so we don't know...


JOHNSON: ...Any more than that right now.

CHANG: So it sounds like prosecutors are pretty committed to helping Flynn get a lighter sentence, possibly no prison time at all.

JOHNSON: Yeah. Flynn was basically facing zero to six months in prison under the sentencing guidelines, and prosecutors are recommending what they call a downward departure here. He may wind up serving no prison time at all. They talk about Flynn - his 33 years in the military, his distinguished service. It's going to ultimately be up to Judge Emmet Sullivan to decide Flynn's punishment when he's sentenced December 18.

CHANG: OK, and I also understand that this could be a big week for the special counsel's team. What else can we expect in the coming days?

JOHNSON: Ailsa, eat your Wheaties Friday. It could be...


JOHNSON: ...A big day. We expect to get a lot more details on President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Remember; Manafort pleaded guilty, but authorities say he blew up that deal by lying to the FBI and committing new crimes. They're going to detail some of those on Friday.


JOHNSON: And also on Friday, we could see more information on President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. Cohen's also pleaded guilty in New York. He's helping prosecutors with campaign finance investigation there and also the special counsel with its ongoing Russia probe. We're going to hear more on Friday from prosecutors about how cooperative Michael Cohen has been, which could provide some new insights into this investigation, where it's going and where it's headed next.

CHANG: I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to Friday.


CHANG: That's NPR national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Thanks, Carrie.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.