Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday rebuffed a suggestion by national security adviser Michael Flynn that FBI agents had duped him into lying about his contact with the Russian ambassador.
Although he slammed Flynn’s claims of being misled, Mr. Mueller stood by his initial recommendation that the former Trump administration official receive no jail time.
Mr. Mueller cited Flynn’s acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with the special counsel as the reasons for sparing him jail.
But Mr. Mueller rebuked Flynn’s claim he was misled by the FBI agents who interviewed him in January 2017 about his conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“Nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements to the FBI on January 24,” Mr. Mueller wrote.
Later, Mr. Mueller said Flynn “chose to make false statements” about his communications with Mr. Kisylak weeks prior to the FBI media. Mr. Mueller noted that Flynn had already lied to several members of the Trump administration, including Vice President Micheal Pence, about his contact with Mr. Kisylak before the FBI meeting.
“When faced with FBI’s question on January 24, during an interview that was voluntary and cordial, the defendant repeated the same false statements,” Mr. Mueller wrote. “The court should reject the defendant’s attempt to minimize the seriousness of those false statements to the FBI.”
Mr. Mueller also released memos written by the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn. The agents emphasized that Flynn lied to them and they were aware of his previous lies to administration officials.
Flynn was “committed to his false story” that he did not speak with Mr. Kislyak about eliminating sanctions the United States imposed on Russia.
The notes also said that Flynn seemed so assured that in the moment he did not appear to be deceiving them.
Last December, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Kisylak in charges brought by Mr. Mueller’s probe into Russian efforts to meddle int he 2016 election.
Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
Flynn’s attorneys had accused the FBI agents who interviewed him of failing to advise of the penalties for making a false statement, noting that he appeared “unguarded” and friendly during the interview.
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who has been criticized by conservatives for his anti-Trump texts sent to his mistress, Lisa Page, was one of the agents who interviewed Flynn, according to the notes.