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The explosive news that ousted national security advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials was delivered in a brief, tidy package: a one-and-a-half-page document laying out the single count against him.

Former federal prosecutors told TPM that Special Counsel Robert Mueller made a calculated move to keep Flynn’s charge limited, and that, given what is known about Flynn’s myriad inappropriate foreign dealings, they wouldn’t have done so unless the former intelligence official had divulged some very juicy secrets.

“What’s interesting to me is what he’s not charged with,” said Steven Miller, a former anti-corruption federal prosecutor. “This is a very narrowly drawn structural plea bargain. By virtue of a single count he can’t get more than a five-year sentence. You don’t get that unless you’re giving something serious to the government. And the number of players left are relatively small: it’s [Jared] Kushner, it’s [Donald] Trump Jr., it’s the Trump campaign, and it’s the President. So I think this is something that would cause all of them to be extraordinarily worried.”

“It’s a neon sign that there’s massive cooperation underway by Flynn,” Miller added.

Jens Ohlin, an expert in criminal law at Cornell Law School, concurred, saying what essentially amounts to a “sweetheart deal” would not be offered unless Flynn could incriminate a bigger fish.

“The government would not agree to this deal if Flynn was merely providing information on someone who is in a peripheral place in the criminality,” Ohlin said. “So if he’s providing information in exchange to this deal its because it’s someone who is even more centrally located than Flynn.”

Shortly after Flynn entered a guilty plea in Washington, D.C. federal court, the White House released a statement downplaying the news. White House attorney Ty Cobb’s claim that “nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn” was rapidly proven false by the release of Flynn’s statement of offense.

That document affirmed that “a very senior member” and “senior official” of the Trump transition team told Flynn to contact Russian and other foreign government officials to discuss critical foreign policy decisions.

Former prosecutors say that Flynn must have entered into a proffer, or “queen for a day,” agreement with Mueller’s team in which he divulged every detail he knew relevant to their investigation. The government found the information sufficiently valuable that they agreed to strike a deal, despite Flynn’s undisclosed lobbying on behalf of Turkey and reported discussions about spiriting an exiled Muslim cleric loathed by Turkey’s government out of the U.S.

The decision not to include a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act for his Turkey lobbying or other possible charges in Flynn’s plea agreement is not as unusual as it may seem.

“They have discretion to do whatever they want,” Seetha Ramachandran, a former Justice Department official and assistant U.S. attorney said of federal prosecutors. “The practice really varies between different federal districts. Some U.S. attorneys offices and parts of [Main] Justice want a cooperator to plead guilty to everything they’ve ever done. Some use a more bare-bones type of guilty plea. So I think it really varies. He’s chosen this strategy.”

Mueller’s camp has carefully managed the release of information about other Trump officials who may be caught up in the probe, but details on Flynn’s work to lobby on behalf of Israel with Kushner are already emerging in the press. Much more will come out in the days to come, legal experts predicted.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” said Steve Vladeck, a national security expert at the University of Texas School of Law.

“The question is whether we’re going to start hearing stuff from Flynn’s camp about what he’s sharing with investigators, whether we’re going to see more movement, more indictments coming down in the next couple of weeks from Mueller. The real story of today is that there’s a guarantee that there’s big news coming down the pike.”

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In court documents and at a hearing where former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn entered a guilty plea for lying to the FBI, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team said that other officials in President Trump’s transition team were aware of and even directed Flynn’s backchannel communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump’s inauguration.

Flynn has now admitted that in a voluntary Jan. 24 interview with FBI he made false statements about a push by the Trump transition team to persuade officials from a foreign government to delay or defeat a United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to condemn Israeli settlements. Flynn also has admitted he lied to FBI agents about a previously reported conversation he had with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, on Dec. 29 about sanctions the Obama administration was imposing on Russia at the time.

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After hours of radio silence following the news that former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, White House lawyer Ty Cobb finally issued a statement downplaying Flynn’s role in the White House and calling him “a former Obama administration official.”

“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” Cobb said in a statement. “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”

The charge, he said, demonstrated that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is “moving with all deliberate speed.” Cobb said he still expected “a prompt and reasonable conclusion” to the Mueller probe.

Read the full statement:

“Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.

“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.  Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.  The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

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Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to a single charge brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller of making false statements to FBI agents about contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016.

Flynn has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe as part of his guilty plea, which he entered in a federal courtroom in Washington, in front of U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.

As part of the plea agreement, Flynn must fully cooperate with government investigators on any matter they deem relevant. Flynn may have to answer questions and participate in covert law enforcement activities. He must also turn over to the government all evidence of crimes he is aware of.

Flynn was released Friday on his personal recognizance — based on a promise that he will appear back in court for any necessary hearings — and he must report to the D.C. pretrial services agency weekly by phone.

Mueller’s team asked Contreras on Monday to defer sentencing in Flynn’s case, and in the plea agreement, Mueller’s team notes that Flynn’s sentencing could be delayed until Flynn has finished cooperating with investigators.

In the plea offer, Mueller’s team determined that Flynn should face somewhere between zero and six months in prison and pay a fine between $500 and $9,500, though the judge will ultimately determine Flynn’s sentence. The maximum sentence for Flynn’s offense is 5 years in prison, Contreras said Friday at the plea hearing.

Flynn, through his attorney, issued a statement after the hearing:

The White House attorney overseeing its response to the probe, Ty Cobb, issued a statement on Flynn’s guilty plea, via the White House pool reporter:

“Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.

“The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.”

Read the statement of offense:

Read the plea agreement:

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Former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn has been charged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in federal court in Washington DC with one count of making a false statement to the FBI about his Russian contacts.

The court documents suggest that the charge is part of a plea agreement between Flynn and Mueller, suggesting Mueller has secured Flynn’s cooperation. The cooperation of Flynn, a former top Trump campaign, transition and White House official, marks a grave turn to the Russia investigation for the Trump White House.

The information charges Flynn with one count of making a false statement.

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Defense attorneys are typically wary of letting their clients share information with those investigating them, so reports that Jared Kushner agreed to a November interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller came as something of a surprise. Was President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top aide officially just a witness in the sprawling investigation clouding the White House?

Not exactly, former federal prosecutors say.

Kushner was brought in for an approximately 90-minute interview that focused primarily on the Russia contacts of ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to reports in the New York Times and CNN. But former federal prosecutors note that political as well as legal considerations colored Kushner’s decision to talk, and that the reported focus on Flynn doesn’t mean that Mueller won’t want to learn more about other topics pertaining to Kushner.

“One thing it certainly means is that his lawyer thought there was not any significant criminal liability for Kushner as a result of that interview, which leads me to think it was fairly limited,” former assistant U.S. attorney Renato Mariotti told TPM, noting that the terms of what would be discussed were likely agreed upon ahead of time.

“But it would shock me if [Kushner attorney] Abbe Lowell thought that Kushner had no liability anywhere else,” Mariotti, who is now running for Illinois attorney general, added.

Lowell did not respond to TPM’s request for comment by press time, but said in a statement to CNN that Kushner “has voluntarily cooperated with all relevant inquiries and will continue to do so.”

Kushner, a core member of Trump’s tight inner circle, is reportedly under scrutiny for a number of issues. The top White House aide failed to disclose dozens of meetings with foreign contents on his national security clearance forms; had multiple meetings with Russians including the head of the sanctioned Vnesheconombank; and reportedly encouraged the firing of former FBI director James Comey.

Given all that, former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg said that “no defense attorney in his right mind would let Jared Kushner anywhere near a prosecutor.”

But Zeidenberg pointed out that there are optics issues at play in special counsel investigations, and White House attorneys have maintained that administration officials are fully cooperating with Mueller’s team.

A similar situation played out during his time working on the investigation into the leaked identity of former CIA officer Valerie Wilson, Zeidenberg said, because officials in George W. Bush’s administration followed White House orders to cooperate with the probe.

“Even [indicted former White House adviser] Scooter Libby came in multiple times, and it wasn’t helpful to him,” Zeidenberg told TPM.

“There are political considerations as opposed to just legal ones,” he added. “If you’re looking at it from a legal perspective, you just keep your mouth shut and see what the government, the prosecutor comes up with. But if there are political considerations, it’d be a real problem if Jared Kushner asserted his Fifth Amendment or if other people close to the White House said they were pleading the Fifth. There would be a terrible perception problem.”

One former DOJ official sees a more innocent explanation for Kushner’s willingness to conduct the interview: he may have been a witness to key events or been sloppy in filing his national security clearance application, but none of the publicly available evidence suggests that he is criminally liable.

“So far I don’t see the things Kushner has done to be criminal, and you want to continue to send a message to the prosecutors that your client is cooperative,” said Michael Zeldin, a former federal counsel who worked closely with Mueller in the DOJ’s Criminal Division. “So it would make sense that you’d bring him in to help the prosecutor in the areas that they’re investigating, as long as it doesn’t implicate your client’s liberty.”

Though prosecutors are mindful of the optics of bringing high-profile White House officials in for multiple interviews, Mariotti and Zeidenberg said Mueller’s team will likely need Kushner to address the other issues that pertain to him, and it’s unclear if Lowell will agree to all of those discussions. Cautioning that most of the developments in the probe are happening out of sight, the three former prosecutors said that reports that Flynn’s legal team may be hammering out a possible deal don’t necessarily say anything about the progress of investigations into matters like obstruction of justice.

News that former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was indicted and pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his Russia contacts, for example, emerged like a “bolt out of the blue,” Zeidenberg said.

The prospect of other bolts raining down render the President’s rosy predictions about the probe’s impending conclusion unlikely, prosecutors warned.

“The idea that this is going to be wrapped up by the end of this year is laughable,” Zeidenberg said. “That I can say with a high degree of confidence is not true.”

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The public portion of a federal court hearing on the latest legal tussle between the House Intel Committee and the intelligence firm behind the so-called Trump dossier focused on whether a judge can halt a subpoena that the committee had issued on the firm’s bank.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon heard arguments from lawyers representing the firm, Fusion GPS, and House Intel, for nearly an hour, before kicking out the public for the parties to discuss aspects of the case that remain under seal. The main point of contention in the public portion of arguments was whether the court had the authority to block the subpoena — particularly as the bank itself is not objecting to it, but rather Fusion GPS as a third party intervenor.

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A month after turning himself in for charges he faces connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort reached a bail deal with Mueller’s team, according to court documents filed by Manafort’s lawyers Thursday.

Manafort’s lawyers are now seeking for a federal judge to approve of his release under the conditions laid out in the court filing.

Manafort has offered Mueller as bail four of his real estate properties in New York, Virginia, and Floridia, which his lawyers claimed were worth a total of $11.65 million.

Additionally, Manafort and his wife have agreed not to travel internationally, and Manafort would also limit his domestic travel to Florida, Virginia, New York and the District of Columbia. For any additional domestic travel, Manafort would seek the permission of the court, his lawyers said.

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There’s now a strongest contender for “weirdest subpoena” in the House investigation into Russian election interference: Randy Credico, a 63-year-old Manhattan comedian who has made several bids for local public office, tweeted an image of his subpoena on Tuesday night.

Credico has been summoned for a 2 p.m. deposition on Dec. 15—the same day he has a New York County jury duty summons to answer, his lawyer told TPM.

The committee contacted Credico on Nov. 9, according to Alternet’s Max Blumenthal, who uploaded a copy of a letter signed by Texas Republican Mike Conaway and California Democrat Adam Schiff informing Credico that he would be questioned about matters “including Russian cyber activities directed against the 2106 U.S. election, potential links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns, the U.S. government’s response to these Russian active measures, and related leaks of classified information.”

Roger Stone wrote on Facebook early Thursday morning that Credico had been his intermediary with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, but stressed that Credico had not given him anything secret or privileged, merely confirmed information that had come out of Credico’s publicly available interviews on WBAI.

It might be worth taking that last pronouncement with a grain of salt: New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza observed on Twitter that Stone had flatly lied to him about Credico’s role as go-between when Lizza pressed him on it in an interview in March and warned other reporters not to trust Stone.

Stone admitted in the Facebook post to withholding Credico’s name during his own questioning before the House Intelligence Committee, saying he did so because he was afraid for Credico’s career. “I initially declined to identify Randy for the Committee fearing that exposure would be used to hurt his professional career and because our conversation was off-the-record and he is journalist.”

Stone has apparently been privy to a wealth of tantalizing information, notably that emails stolen from John Podesta would be dumped by Wikileaks, and more recently that the initial sexual harassment allegations against Al Franken were forthcoming. Those allegations have since been matched by multiple other women and there is no evidence that they are not credible.

Credico “hates Donald Trump,” his lawyer Martin R. Stolar told TPM, but he also doesn’t much care for Hillary Clinton, according to his YouTube feed, having spent the 2016 primary season talking up Bernie Sanders and criticizing Clinton in a series of videos in which he variously does impressions of Bill Clinton, Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda and the Geico gecko mascot. It’s a gag he used during his own bids for office, including a 2013 campaign for mayor of New York in which he succeeded in getting enough signatures to land on the ballot.

“I assume it’s in regard to what the committee’s interested in, which is a fairly broad mandate to investigate these Russia connections,” Stolar said. “I can tell you that Julian Assange was on his radio program several times and that he’s spoken with Julian in situations that were not broadcast.” Those conversations were “probably subsequently, probably in preparation for future radio programs.”

Stolar said he was “not sure [Credico] will be able to shed any light on any of it.”

TPM contacted Credico by text. “My lawyers have put a gag order on my big mouth,” he responded.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress Thursday that the FBI has a “foreign influence” task force to deal with election interference by outside actors.

“I take any effort to interfere with out election system by Russia or any other nation state or non-nation state seriously, because it strikes right at the heart of who we are as a country,” Wray said, in a response to a question about the FBI’s response to Russia’s election meddling by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY). Wray was appearing at a hearing in front of the House Homeland Security Committee.

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