Call this the shoe that didn’t drop. In a court filing late last night, the special counsel’s team filed a sentence recommendation regarding Michael Flynn, a supposed lynchpin of potential Russian collusion. Robert Mueller’s attorneys urged the federal judge to go easy on Flynn, thanks to his cooperation with their investigation, and claimed it was now “complete.”
That means we won’t be seeing any collusion theories connecting through the man once thought to be a prime suspect for it:
Michael Flynn’s cooperation in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is complete, lawyers for the special counsel said in a Tuesday night report to a federal judge presiding over the former Trump national security adviser’s case. …
Mueller didn’t take a position on Flynn’s request for a delay but noted that prosecutors had exhausted the witness of information since he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017.
“While the defendant remains in a position to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, and could testify in the EDVA case should it proceed to trial, in the government’s view his cooperation is otherwise complete,” Mueller’s lawyers wrote.
Recall that Flynn was one of the few figures in the Trump campaign and transition to have verifiable contacts with a Russian in this investigation. Trump’s critics often cited Flynn’s contact with then-ambassador Sergei Kislyak as a conduit of either collusion or corrupt influence, at least during the transition when Trump signaled that he’d balk at additional sanctions in an attempt to improve relations. The fact that presidential transitions routinely set up contacts with diplomats — and that Flynn has served his country honorably for decades — made little impact on those calculations.
When Flynn and Mueller developed this plea deal, it was clear that this path to Russia-collusion was effectively dead, albeit not entirely so. Mueller could have added more charges if necessary, or could have referenced Flynn as an unindicted co-conspirator in other indictments that outlined collusion charges involving others. After last night, though, the Flynn angle on potential collusion went from mostly dead to look through its pockets and look for loose change status. Mueller has no more use for Flynn outside of the EDVA case, which indicates that Mueller doesn’t anticipate any other legal issues involving Flynn. Nor have there been any other indictments involving collusion of any kind, involving Flynn or not.
That doesn’t mean collusion itself is dead, but we’re running out of potential pathways for it. If Flynn didn’t have any involvement or knowledge of it despite being Trump’s chief foreign-policy adviser and briefly his national-security adviser, it’s looking like there’s nothing to find.