tv Cuomo Prime Time CNN December 4, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
very important night. the russia investigation is far from over. bob mueller says general michael flynn provided such significant cooperation he should serve no prison time. that is unusual. he has not asked for no jail time in all cases. that tells you about the scale and the scope. one is largely background. but then there is an addendum.
that's supposed to provide the particulars. wait until you see what's in that document. let's get after it. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> the special counsel again saying that general michael flynn gave such good cooperation, so substantial, he should serve no time in jail. how did we get here? 2017, michael flynn pled guilty to lying to the fbi to the department of justice about his contacts with russian ambassador sergei kislyak. flynn has been cooperating ever since. the special counsel answers a very early informative question. did flynn cooperate right away how much was he into cooperating? there has been so much speculating and reporting that he was dragging his feet, he didn't want to cooperate. the special counsel said none of that speculation was true. that he was one of the first
with long-range understanding of the campaign and the interactions with russia and other entities to come forward and to cooperate. that's a key point. he also said something else in here. and i think we have it made up for you. you may take this as frustrating, but you should not. i will explain why. the special counsel says in the addendum, so there's the main memo that we'll take you through it. then there is the addendum on what he cooperated on. most of it i would suggest that matters is redacted. i don't know if we have any pages. you know what redacted looks like. it looks like this, okay, just black bars. what does that tell you? it tells you that this is not over. and what does this mean? now we can put meat on the bones of that. in this memo the special counsel says not only has general flynn helped with the special counsel investigation into russian interference, that's the main one, he's also been helping with
a separate criminal investigation. against who? about what? we don't know. it's all redacted. common sense tells you the truth. he's got something else working. there will be more to come. on that basis, you see a lot of suggestive language in the two documents that it's a little bit of a beware. we asked people for help. not everybody wanted to come up. we learned a lot of things anyway. they should be held to a high standard and this could be the first of a number of iterations of moves by the special counsel. let's look at what's here and let's look at what they got from flynn and let's look at where it leads. we have two perfect guests. we have d.c. and former u.s. solicitor general neal catyal and chief investigative correspondent and co-authorize of "russian roulette, mike isikoff. haven't gotten anything wrong yet in terms of laying it out.
>> not that i heard. >> to me the most impressive thing is no time. he has been so helpful, no time. not said out of deference to his position but his cooperation. the second thing, all the bars. you always want to see bars and you are trying to figure out whether or not it's over and where it might be headed. what's your take? >> let's start with the bars. a lot of people have speculated include i think even michael yesterday that mueller might be wrapping up his investigation. you do not file a document that looks like this if your investigation is in the final stages. there is a line in the actual filing just a half hour ago that said it can't reveal the details of all flynn's assistance because the investigations in which he provided assistance are ongoing. ongoing. that is, boy, a real clue to strap in because we are in this for a while. >> let me point out a few things and it takes a close reading of
this to tease this out. if you look at that addendum that does have the frustrating redactions, there are three investigations referenced for which flynn provided documentation. one is completely redacted. we don't know what it is. >> but it is a criminal investigation. >> a criminal investigation. the second is the special counsel's investigation into collusion links between the trump campaign and the russians. that is not redacted. then a third one that is totally redacted. the way i read this, the ongoing investigations which are not itemized here are what flynn is providing continuing assistance to, but it's not the russia coordination investigation because that is spelled out and not redacted so there are other matters that mueller has come across. he may be doing it himself or
may have referred it out to other u.s. attorneys offices like he did with michael cohen. we don't know. but, you know, the fact is that if you look at the language as it refers to the coordination between the trump campaign and the russians, i don't see a reference to ongoing. >> i love mike. i have to disagree. there is the second part of the memo which talks about michael's word, collusion, and the contacts between the trump campaign and russia. then right afterwards, there is a long blacked out paragraph. i don't think that's about something else necessarily. it could very well be about the same exact thing. >> i'm not known as a politician, but you can both be right. one, when we are investigaing what's happening around cohen, sources suggest close to that investigation there is a compartmentalized nature to the probe. they may end, for instance, their aspect of looking at the president's role of what he knew and what he didn't.
maybe they could end that on the basis of his questions and let's be honest, their hands are tied by the doj. that could end. there could be other parts that continue. in fact, when i ask people close to the president's legal team about that, they jumped on the suggestion. so that could be in the offing. michael could be picking that up in his reporting, clearly, however, at the same time, when you isolate something within the russia investigation that becomes relevant, you can spin it off into its own deal. so now you get that, well it's not that you spoke to somebody that you weren't supposed to or you took a meeting that you were stupid enough to take, but this could be criminal. now i'm coming after you and you are not part of the interference probe. you are your own animal. >> let's go back to the headline here. no jail time. >> no jail time, which is unusual. mueller has not done that in every case of cooperation. >> if you are going to use flynn to make a criminal case against
somebody else, you want him not just to plead guilty, but to serve some time because he is your witness against somebody else. he is your witness who saw criminal conduct and participated. >> like what they're doing with cohen. >> right. the question in my mind is, if flynn is not getting any prison time here, who is the target? because, you know, it may be that it's just the president and mueller is bound by doj guidelines and can't indict the president. >> right. he could do a set aside indictment. he could do an indictment for later. >> there is nothing here that hints at the potential targets. >> 100% true. i haven't heard different from you. however, to answer your own question on page two of the addendum, the government has thus far obtained from the defendant substantial assistance. some of that may not be fully realized at this time because the investigation
in which he is providing assistance is ongoing, however, the defendant and the government agree that sentencing president is none the less appropriate because sufficient information is available to allow the court to determine the defendant of the sentence meaning he has already given us enough help to justify the call for leniency and there are other things he can help us with. >> ike barinholtz is right. the $5 million question is what to is to come. the target has to be something big in order for flynn to get -- >> targets. there are at least two open matters. >> think about who flynn was. i served twice in the government in high positions and the the national security adviser is a step away from god. that's how important that person is. closest adviser to the president on foreign policy and the like, that person, michael flynn, admitted to a crime here and mueller's team said because he was cooperating and because he effectively confessed right away, zero time. you are only going to do that if there's something big.
>> we know that because he has dondon it, and we will see what he does with cohen and we don't expect anything like that with manafort. we will see as a basis of comparison. they have not asked for no time in other cases. another thing is this matter -- you've drafted lots of these types of pleadings for the public. >> usually in public. >> a, criminal investigation. b, special counsel's office investigation. okay? there is a subset i, we don't know if there is a subset in a. there may be based on the paragraph structure but we are not sure. then this paragraph that is open on page four. it looks like this. a lot of it is bars. i will tell you why i'm making the question. the defendant also provided useful information concerning -- it's not broken out as a subset with its own letter. what does that mean to laymen? >> that was my point to michael. it's a rorschach test at this point. who knows who it means. it might tell us more what we than think than it does -- >> if it was a big matter,
wouldn't it have a letter? >> the structure of the document tracks the way the special counsel and mueller's mandate is. he has a criminal and intelligence mandate. and "a" could be seen as criminal, "b," intelligence. >> what is the difference? >> sometimes they are going to intersect but oftentimes intelligence investigations are just about retrospective what happened without necessarily anyone going through jail time and we have a deep need to know what happened apart from whether the president should be in jail or anything. >> is there a reason to believe? answer this then take it wherever you want to go. mike flynn got hooked on two things. one, you lied about talking to kislyak. although the fbi early on reported they didn't think he was lying. but mueller seems to feel differently. also what he did with turkey. spell that out. >> absolutely. that's very significant. it makes clear that he was lobbying for the government of turkey without doing a full
disclosure to the justice department on the foreign registration act. i think he registered on behalf of some dutch business man with ties to the turkish government. in fact, mueller makes clear it was the turkish government he was opting for. on election day promoting erdogan's mission getting the goo -- ghulan guy rendered back to turkey. he never disclosed that he was being paid by the government of turkey. i suspect that one of those ongoing investigations that have been redacted relates to matters involving his turkey representation. there were reports he may have been involved in discussions about trying to privately render to kidnap the chief in pennsylvania and send him back to turkey. we don't know if that has been fleshed out by mueller or other prosecutors in doj. but that's certainly something
that could suggest -- it could be what we're talking about. >> is that something that mueller wants to chase down, something so tangential to the central premises of his introduction into this? >> not necessarily because any criminal investigation when you come across evidence with some of your targets, they have committed something else, you want to chase that lead down because these things have tentacles and interrelationships. >> right, but is there an interrelationship and if you are dealing with russian interference and if anyone helped their efforts and the fact that he was trying to double dip and make money twice working for the government and working as a lobbyist -- >> they could be totally separate and as an investigainvestigator, you have to chase the leads down to make sure truly that they are separate instead of -- >> as you have more time to look at it, i see a lot of underlining. >> on the issue that you were trying to break down, the special counsel office'sf investigation is on page three and the addendum.
there is one interaction between the trump team and russia. there is no two. you get that lengthy blacked out. this may be, i hate to say this about robert mueller's operation, sloppy drafting on their part because you would have expected if you are going to put a one, you would put a two. an english professor or instructor might have helped. >> is that how it works drafting? do you really heed to that kind of stuff or no? >> mueller's team is just about some of the best lawyers and writers around. i think that two could be on page five. it's right here. again, we're -- >> we're not talking style points. we are talking about seeing categories of action. >> there could be another category on page five. i would hesitate. >> there could be. although i'll tell you what, sometimes when you don't have the main thing, you try to find many things and to michael's earlier suggestion, it could be the case when it comes to who was talking to the
wrong people at the wrong time, and filling in the blanks with russians and during this campaign before and after the election, maybe he's the only one. i know there is the trump tower meeting and papadopoulos and other people, but i'm saying in terms of central figures, doing things that motivated coordination, you could give a fair reading that flynn is the guy who did the most outward thing. he helped us understand -- >> remember, this is only a cooperation document about flynn. it could be that all these other people had deep bad things happening. it just was flynn was not cooperating with respect to them. it could be that other people involved in trump tower and -- >> it says a nonexhaustive summary -- let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they had tons of time to do this. they have an "i," ordinarily it there would be a double "i" after this. that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. maybe that's the one line above the line.
>> it could be but they could have had a double "i" and left everything else -- >> now we are quibbling. >> all the speculation. the bottom line is mueller delivered. >> how so? >> mueller got the president's national security adviser to agree that he had committed a felony and is cooperating and now we are going to see what the roots of that cooperation is. that's a big deal. it's the national security adviser. >> they're knew they had him lying. although, again, why did the fbi not think he was lying? but then you have a different set of investigators in the same house think he was. >> i'm not sure. >> it was a nice question. >> we do know that mueller knew pretty heavy-handed tactics and let him know that his son could face criminal jeopardy if he did not agree to cooperate and plead guilty. so that could have been a factor. until we see the transcripts of his conversations with kislyak, it's going to be hard to reach a final judgment. at this point
michael flynn has now -- is going to be sentenced. his cooperation looks like is completed. there is no reason why congress can't step up to the plate and do what it should have been doing from the beginning which is calling some of these crucial witnesses like mike flynn and let him lay out what he can say and what he knows about interaction with the president. the same for michael cohen. we should be seeing michael cohen testifying in public next month if congress does its job. >> one thing is for sure, michael cohen is willing to do it if you look at the signals. he says he wants to talk to anybody to be helpful. he's looking for something similar to this. quick point of order, how persuasive is this to the judge that when he sees that the special counsel says, i don't think he should get any jail time, of course, the general is asking for no jail time how persuasive -- >> the prosecutors have to tell the cooperator, it's up to the judge. i will make a recommendation. in something like this, the recommendation is going to be
followed, i think. there is reasons why that sentence is zero to six. the judge may be privy to more than we even know. and i think, you know, it's a persuasive document. >> the control room will check on this. the judge is emmett cumberland. he is somebody that flynn's team was more comfortable with. he doesn't just go in terms of harshness. here it's obviously a different scenario. he's asking for leniency. not to step on your own reporting and headline, but there is a lot of talk about when does this end. now, a lot of it is political opportunism. as a student of your reporting, for many years, federal investigations can go many years without near the productivity this one had. what is the best reporting you have at this point about where we are? >> i think we will have to wait until friday when we will learn a lot more in what is filed with paul manafort's lies to the prosecutors. that will tell us a lot.
at least according to my reporting, congressional investigators asked questions of mueller's office about whether they can call certain witnesses related to the obstruction phase and whether they are getting a relative green light saying we've basically talked to everybody we want to talk to relating to obstruction. the fact that these sentencing memorandums are being filed at all is usually you don't see this. if somebody is cooperating as a government witness, usually they don't get -- the sentencing put off until all the ancillary cases are at least brought and in many cases finished. you can have sentencing put off for years for key cooperators. the fact that mueller is going forward suggests to me that there are not a lot of targets relating to the russia coordination matter that he has yet to bring. we don't know that for sure. it's hard to tell from the document, but that seems to be
the direction. >> he has more wood to chop. otherwise they wouldn't have redacted things. emmet sullivan, not cumberland is the judge. the reckoning of him is the same. >> that may be right that the investigation or at least parts of it are closing. mueller is under intense pressure. this is the most high profile investigation in the country. we don't know who is supervising it. whether it's this attorney general whitaker or someone else. mueller feels pressure as all humans would be to demonstrate, look, there are fruits of this investigation and flynn is obviously one and cohen is another. >> unquestionable fruits of the investigation. we learned a lot last week in the cohen plea. i thought that was enormously significant. i also think bob mueller doesn't want to be a ken starr. he does not want this to drag on well into next year. he knows the political limits.
>> no, fair point and understood. i don't see dove tailing between flynn and cohen. by any stretch, it's completely different universes. however cohen is an example of all the possibilities of redaction. not that there is dove tailing and not that there's any coordination between what they are looking at with flynn and cohen, but in terms of more wood to chop, cohen can know many, many things that have nothing to do with straight line behavior of the campaign and russian interference. it could go to specifically to the timing of what the president knew and didn't know based on michael cohen's presence in the same room. the trump foundation and fiduciary matters of money. that has nothing to do with russian interference. >> absolutely, but there are a lot of different places it can go. why offer this context? if you are in trump land tonight and these documents come down, how do you feel? >> i'm wigging out because last week we had cohen who knows about a lot of different things
and here we have flynn who knows about certain things that are of grave importance to our national security and trump's relationship to them. this is a double whammy that is very, very scary for the president. >> let's test it. if you're trump's -- you say, hold on a second. we fired him because he lied. that takes care of us on flynn. turkey, we didn't know about it. he was a bad guy. we misjudged him. i didn't think he's be doing that. what does it have to do with me. criminal investigation. it can't have anything to do with me because i'm the president. you're not bringing a criminal investigation against me. i don't know who he is talking about, but it's not me. rat worth -- at worst this is i have a bunch of liars and bad guys, but my base seems to forgive me. >> remember, one of the big allegations is and this is whether flynn was fired for these reasons or not and who knew what when? and i think mueller has information about that with flynn's cooperation they didn't have it before and you might have been able to tell yourself that story for the last year and a half if you're trump.
but now this document said there is a guy in the room who knew that stuff and he is cooperating with mueller. >> he smacks down my offer of pushback. >> how do you see it? >> first of all, there's nothing in here that tells us the answer to my big question which was the nature of communications between flynn and the president after he got fired during the president of the president telling james comey i hope you can see fit to let him go. we had reporting last year that even after that, flynn was getting messages from the president. i was hoping we might see some information about that we don't have that here which does lead me to think if there is a target here, it is the president, but again, he can't be indicted and that's information that should go to the congress and how you should feel in trump land, anyone who sees those redactionses and think they might be in it, they are going to be wigging out. >> language people might be picking up on when they look at these documents even with the redactions.
the special counsel said individuals, plural, with the campaign and on the transition team. what does that tell you? it was not just michael flynn dealing with russia. the language they used is that he was helpful in providing information and assistance with individuals, plural. with the campaign and on the transition team. so the suggestion that the reason that the russia probe is not redacted is maybe there is nothing more to do with it. he says specifically that there were other people in those universes that are relevant. then he listed a couple of things that were relevant. i didn't know with the kislyak. maybe i was not following it closely enough. which, of course, is ridiculous because it absorbed my life for the last several years. israeli settlements, the sanctions we heard about and the idea of trying to get kislyak to also slow down russian behavior on other issues so
let's put those two together. we are sanctioning you for things you don't like. we don't like how fast you're moving on certain things, okay, but the israeli settlements, how does that fit in? >> that was the closest to being a potential logan act violation. the logan act bars private citizens from being involved in foreign policy. it has never been enforced. it has never been successfully prosecuted. but the details from flynn's plea from last year were that he and others in the trump transition were calling the ambassadors to the security council do to get them to overturn president obama's position which would allow this u.n. security council condemning israeli settlements to go through. they were actively trying to interfere with what the sitting president would do. again, the logan act has never been successfully prosecuted so
it's unlikely that you would ever get a case but that is what alarmed people at the justice department. that's what sally yates was most concerned about when she talked about a potential logan act matter even more than the context with kislyak. >> the russian sanctions piece is pretty important. the whole idea of the logan act is to prevent a private foreign policy and you have obama sanctioning, as a sitting president, russia and dealings, secret dealings by the trump campaign to lift those sanctions with the ambassador. that has to stop. >> i agree, but we don't know what exactly was in the conversation. we know from the plea there were actual phone calls made by trump transition members to u.n. ambassadors trying to get -- >> that's why i highlight individuals within the campaign and the transition team. we know who does know what happened in that phone call, mueller and his team, because that's what mike flynn
has been doing. one other aspect that is relevant to mueller and i want to know why it's impressive to you both. the idea of timeliness. they go out of their way to say there's actually a whole paragraph on it in the addendum and i think this was probably just an economy of justice type of thing. page 5, roman numeral 2, the timeliness of the assistance. the usefulness is connected to the timeliness. the defendant began providing information not long after the government first sought his cooperation. by the way, that ends up diffusing a lot of speculation early on that flynn was fighting them. the special counsel says that wasn't true. it goes to his character. his early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation by the sco, additionally the defendant's decision to plead guilty and cooperate fully related to firsthand witnesses to become
cooperative. >> mueller has three audiences when he writes that paragraph. it's really important. one is to flynn to say, you made a deal with me and i'm sticking up to the deal. two is to the court. the court, despite the fact that this guy is pleading guilty to a major offense, he should have zero jail time. thirdly is all the other witnesses mueller is dealing with and interviewing and the like. he knows what trump did yesterday and what trump has done time and again to say to potential witnesses, hold firm and don't rat on me and you will get a pardon and if you do rat, i will call you weak and say the book should get then at you. mueller saying if you want to play that game, i can play that game. you don't need to go through this speculative pardon route. whose word do you trust more? donald trump or robert mueller? >> also it is an interesting point in contrast. the president of the united states is compromised because he is affected by the
most mitigated term of the investigation but him saying if you cooperate with the government, even though he's the head of the government, you're a rat. if you don't like roger stone pleaded the fifth on document production which i guess would make him a mob guy according to the president because he used to only say mob guys are the only ones who plead the fifth, but you are strong if you resist. mueller said the opposite. in his sentencing, he talks about the history and characteristics of the defendant and he says mike flynn served 33 years in the military honorably and then he said the defendant's record of military and public service distinguish him from every other person charged as part of the investigation. true. however, senior government leaders should be held to the highest standards. >> right, right. but going back to the language you were reading before is early cooperation with the government. what a contrast with paul manafort who didn't cooperate at all. who didn't serve in government
either. he was lining his pockets serving foreign interests. >> serving foreign governments. >> right. serving foreign governments, not the u.s. government. hen to be taken to trial, convicted then agrees to cooperate and then doesn't and then lies to them. you couldn't find a starker contrast than between michael flynn and paul manafort. >> now, listen, this is one of the beauties of doing my job. i have someone who is a better lawyer than i am and better reporter than i am sitting right next to me. on manafort, what i'm hearing is that don't be ready for michael cohen events when you get the memo on manafort. that more likely than turns out manafort was lying about all of the other things we were interested in, russia, that manafort has been so consistently lying about his revenue streams and what he was doing to make money that that is much more likely and of course we are always qualifying it with the caveat we're open to being surprised but that
manafort was not lying about not helping on the stuff that flynn is talking about or any type of collusion or cooperation. but about himself. what are you hearing? >> that makes perfect sense to me. we won't know for sure until friday when we see it. but the manafort investigation began as an investigation into his finances and his offshore accounts and his tax evasion and the various monies he was getting from foreign governments. i suspect that that will be part of it. but, look, what people are most interested in is not that. paul manafort was in the trump tower meeting. will we get any hint of what he knows if anything more than has been made public about the trump tower meeting and was manafort lying to mueller's team about that? that's obviously a big question on the table. >> i think one other thing will come up on friday. as we were talking about earlier, mueller has been under a lot of pressure to close the investigation and wrap it up and this and that and the other. friday we will hear a pretty robust defense about why this
investigation takes so long. it takes longer to investigate when people lie to you. manafort has been lying and lying. and so the president den nates this stuff as a process crime or his defenders do. this is actually central to what law enforcement investigations are about, obstruction of justice, intimidation of witnesses and lying and false statements to federal officials. that's what manafort seems to have happened. >> any exposure for the president other than on style points and political problems with the tweets he was sending out about michael cohen should get a harsh sentence. >> absolutely. i mean that is -- you know -- >> but legal exposure? >> oh, absolutely. i mean, 15, 12 prevents people who have a corrupt intent from delaying or enticing someone not to testify. those tweets yesterday i think really, really look very much like that. even if you can't make
an ironclad criminal case about this, the president takes an oath to uphold the constitution and take care of the laws. no president behaves this way. the only people who behave this way are mob folks. >> right, although his supporters and defenders say he is upholding the constitution and has the right to say whatever he wants even though he's the president. he can say how he feels about the sentence. >> people who conspire say that all the time. hey, you know, i conspired to rob a bank. it was only speech, not a crime. it doesn't work. >> i don't think the first amendment is a defense against witness tampering or obstruction. if you are directing a witness not to cooperate in an investigation involving you, you might be expressing your first amendment right to say what you can, but you are also breaking the law. >> if what we can glean to this point, the same thing that happened last week with cohen, it dogs seem fair to say that it can't be over any time soon in its entirety. i mean just as a matter of fact, these redactions speak to
further process. there has to be something else that needs to end, at least on one level. we don't even know what will be redacted like this when we get the cohen memo. >> right. right. i 100% agree. there's only one way this investigation will wrap up quickly and if it's for some reason donald trump is removed from office, otherwise it will go for awhile. >> i don't see any way that happens. i will tell you what you could see. there could be something that could trigger the president to say or maybe not at all. maybe it triggers the acting attorney general to say this is crazy. this has gone on far too long and this is silly. this turkey thing they are going off on now, they will spend months and millions on turkey. no thank you. i'm shutting this down. then what happens? >> we don't even know who is the attorney general right now when it comes to supervising the mueller investigation. i mean, the president named this lackey four weeks ago -- >> matthew whitaker is the name you are looking for. >> they haven't said whether he is supervising this investigation because matthew
whitaker was on this network and denigrating it and there is an ethics issue about that. they haven't told us who is doing it. >> would having an opinion on the case be a basis of recusal? >> often types it can be. the ethics oflgs will rule if you have taken public positions on something, i recused when i was at the justice department from guantanamo which i had taken public positions on in the past. even though i didn't have any involvement with the cases that were pending. that's a standard thing. the shocking thing is that the justice department four weeks in, we don't even know who is the acting attorney general. is it whitaker or rod rosenstein. >> michael, this can't be over. let me ask you, though, in terms of what you are looking for, this, the cohen memo coming out later this week, the manafort one, which do you think is the most interesting? >> i think the cohen and manafort ones could be more interesting than this. i'm hoping there won't be as
many redactions in those. >> i didn't expect any redacts in this. i thought it was only dealing with what he said. >> national security information. you're going to have -- >> cohen had the longest relationship with donald trump. he had the closest relationship with donald trump. he had the most interaction with donald trump. if there were other matters that michael cohen provided information about relating to the president, i would expect to see more on that and neal is right. those are not necessarily national security matters or may not be national security matters at all so there may not be a reason for as many redactions. >> michael flynn, 19 interviews. different metric for michael cohen. 70 hours of interviews with all the various investigators, southern district and new york state. mueller. there is certainly a lot -- >> last word.
>> let me say that the cohen filing last week, the idea that michael cohen, the representative of donald trump was in communication with vladimir putin's office during the 2016 campaign about getting financing and land for a trump tower. i think that trumps, so to speak, everything we're searing here. that was the most significant thing. >> especially because the president was denying it. during the campaign. even once he was the presumptive nominee. neal and michael, perfect guests for this. really could not have done it without you matter of fact. the memo, in terms of what we know and then you get into the speculative nature of it, where does it take us from here, here's what we know for sure, it can't be over because they wouldn't have redacted these things so we'll come back and have more on the breaking developments and we'll put two legal minds to the test of where we go next. what matters here and what doesn't? next. coaching means making tough choices.
more on the breaking news. the flynn sentencing memo has been filed by robert mueller and there is a good chance flynn will serve no prison time because he asked for exactly that. now, that speaks volumes. we see other recommendations by the special counsel's office with people who cooperate and they did not ask for no jail time. why in this case? the special counsel explains it partially. he said this man has given us a lot of information in a range of matters. at least three separate matters and uses a lot of plural language. individuals connected to the campaign and the transition team. it wasn't just about what flynn said and flynn knew about himself. that's all relevant. also really redacted. it tells you two things. one, you are not going to get the whole answer tonight and two, there is more wood to chop. let's get chem mow's court in session. barrett and ken. how do you see this mattering
going forward? >> i think this was incredibly significant for a few reasons. first just as you mentioned, the redactions. there is a presumption in federal criminal court for transparency. you can't redact things lightly. you have to justify them. the special counsel said there are ongoing investigations and depending on the judge they had, they may have to back that up. it means that there are significant ongoing investigations and that it was critical for them to redact those, otherwise i don't think they would have gone to that extent. >> fair point and, ken, they have emmet sullivan on the case. he is no prosecutor patsy. he speaks his truth to power whenever he sees fit. in terms of the redactions and what's in this, what do you make in terms of how much it means? >> i think the context as discussed in the last panel will
be better understood on friday when we see the next round, but i don't necessarily agree with respect to the redactions. judges do tend to defer to government requests. it is not something they have to fight for to get these redactions. the presumption will be as a practical matter in favor of giving the government the redactions they asked for and prosecutors with anything ongoing no matter how large or small are notoriously and i was this way when i was ag, notoriously private. we want to keep as much of our cards close to our vest as we wobble can, and with this being at the end for mike flynn, as you wrap up these agreements that involved cooperation especially extensive cooperation, but prior to trial testimony, it does suggest, i think, that the other aspects of in that may be criminal are wrapping up, at least that
mueller would keep to himself. there may be other things he hands off like more manafort items that deal with finance for other people but i think this is a sign that we are nearing the end. >> as a procedural matter, certain parts of the troeb could wrap up and others could continue, berit. i have to tell you, you are far more savvy than i, i didn't expect a lot of resdakzs in this. we know everything he said. and he's cooperated with us, so this is what we think our recommendation for sentencing should be i thought it would be short enand didn't think there would be an addendum and i didn't think there would be an multiple avenues that michael flynn would take to pursue. the special counsel makes that clear two ways. one, the redactions of two different categories of investigations that he didn't feel comfortable disclosing and in mraurl language. he said he helped us with individuals on the campaign and their communications and individuals on the transition team. that tells you there are more
people at play, berit. >> right. one reason you often don't see redaction in a 5x -- a sentencing letter on behalf of cooperating witnesses. one reason you don't see a lot of redactions, they usually come at the very end of a proceeding so you wouldn't have a valuable cooperating witness sentenced unless you were for all intents and purposes done using them. your leverage over that witness is significantly lessened once they know what sentence they will get. >> why do it now? they have weird language about how even though they have ongoing matters there is enough at this time to do it. >> to me it means they don't need michael flynn to testify against anybody else. they could theoretically still call him as a witness. maybe they have some agreement that he has agreed to continue cooperating with them, but i think if that was the case and they needed him to testify, they wouldn't be having him sentenced now. >> ken, if you were working as counsel in trump land how do you
feel about these documents? >> well, certainly i'm wondering about what's blacked out for certain. i would also add one thing about mike flynn in particular. i think after he originally pled, seriious and legitimate questions were raised. you noted yourself that the fbi had early on decided he wasn't lying to them and later the special counsel moved ahead with the prosecution and a plea on this. part of the reason you may have an agreement to no jail time is that the prosecution may realize the department of justice as a whole beyond just the special counsel has taken inconsistent positions on something they would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. that's unique to mike flynn in this whole area, but i don't think we should forget about it in terms of each side calculating what lies ahead for them if there is a fight versus if there is cooperation. >> a separate criminal
investigation is something that mike flynn was key on in giving them great help and it's all redacted. what is your guess as to what could qualify as a separate criminal investigation that mike flynn could have been helpful with? >> silence from both. nobody wants to take it. berit, go ahead. >> i don't think that's easy to answer. i mean, that's so open-ended and speculative and it could be large or trivial. >> i will tell you why i asked the question. because, you know, you know me well enough to know i don't like to chase down empty corridors. they did not redact the special counsel's investigation into russian interference. that's there. there is a criminal investigation and it's redacted. then they say he also helped us with the russia investigation. that's not redacted and then there's something else that he helped with, that is also redacted. it does stand at least common sense that maybe the criminal investigation doesn't extend to russian interference.
>> look, i read that, and it made me think that this was something farmed out to perhaps another office. i mean, one of the things they say in the letter is that -- >> i agree. >> general flynn met not only with the special counsel office but multiple departments of the justice department. it was a criminal investigation that may be handled by the u.s. attorney's office somewhere else, but separate from the special counsel's office. >> i agree with that and that also means it's not russian collusion issues. >> it could mean that. it could mean -- it's criminal so it's not something trivial. >> well, no, the special counsel wouldn't hand off to another u.s. attorney's office something actually at the heart of the referral to the special counsel. >> that are makes sense. that makes sense. berit, worth the wait, these documents? >> i think they were. i think they painted a really interesting picture of how flynn began to become a cooperating witness and one of the things
that jumped out to me was just the contrast between flynn and cohen and manafort. here you have the description of flynn as someone who started cooperating early and seemingly without much trouble and there was nothing -- no discussion in the letter about him having lied to the special counsel's office once he started cooperating. the letter makes it clear what the special counsel office values in cooperating witnesses. that is consistency and coming on board early. >> what is the chance that the president of the united states sees these documents and decides to start tweeting which is our main metric for his level of agitations. >> tweeting is always a possibility with president trump. and predictability in that regard is not very high. i haven't been very good at predicting that. but i would also add one other comment about flynn versus cohen. when you see the language in these documents today and you look back to cohen's history, simply the credibility of the information provided by flynn is
likely higher than the information -- the credibility of the information provided by cohen just from what we've seen and do know set ago side what we are being called on to speculate on redactions and so forth. >> true. >> flynn has been much quieter and suggests a much cleaner process from mike flynn's perspective than from michael cohen and perspective. >> i totally agree. >> the unknown has to be frightening to the trump team that they don't know what they don't know cannot put them in a comfortable place. berit, final word. >> i don't think we will see a recommendlation like this for potentially no jail time -- obviously i don't think we'll see it for paul manafort or michael cohen either and taking into at all of general flynn's military service and to the public balanced with his crimes
but i don't think we'll expect to see a tim lahr type of sentencing recommendation. >> michael cohen is a beast of a different form than mike flynn on a number of different levels. we saw from the special counsel one of the reasons they believe cohen is he could prove it. he proved his own lie. when he said to them i shouldn't have said i wasn't talking about anymore, i still was and here's the proof, that's why mueller relied on it with the certainty that he did because he was able to show what michael cohen said that he knew. so that's a difference also. we'll see how that plays into the 70 hours of cooperation and meetings that michael cohen gave the special counsel and we will know very soon. berit, ken, thank you for making us better on the show tonight. i appreciate it. okay, so we now have the paper from the special counsel but how about the context? our next guest is mary mccord. she helped oversee the fbi's investigation of russian meddling before mueller's appointment. she was part of a crucial meeting with the white house
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all right. tonight's breaking news, michael flynn, the man who made clinton lock her up chants famous at trump rallies will likely not get locked up if the special counsel has anything to say about it because he made a recommendation that the general has been so helpful and did so so early on, on a number of matters involving a number of individuals, that he thinks he should serve no time in jail. i want to bring in somebody who knows a lot more about this than i ever will.
her name is mary mccord. she helped oversee the fbi's investigation of russian meddling before mueller's appointment. she was in the meeting with sally yates when they warned white house counsel don mcgahn that flynn had lied to investigators. a true pleasure. i really do appreciate it, and i want you to know, stipulation here at the top. there are things you should not and cannot discuss. i get it. whenever i get there, brush me aside. there's plenty more for me to discuss. first, at the onset, impressive or not what the special counsel put out today? >> so i think it's what i expected in the sense that i've heard other guests talking about they weren'tredactions. i thought there might actually be an addendum under seal. so i was actually somewhat surprised that we have a document partially public that just has redactions. >> help me understand why because the common sense thought is, well, if this is for his sentencing, that means it's all done. trial's over. he pleaded, so there was no
trial. now it's sentencing. you should tell us as much as possible or tell the court at least because you're trying to justify your recommendation. so if it's just about him, why redact anything? >> so it says it's done with respect to general flynn but not necessarily respect to other people who he might have prevented information about. just if you take this out of this context and think about some other investigation -- i mean i was a prosecutor for 20 years before i was at the national security division. if you have an ongoing drug investigation, for example, and you have a cooperator, and the cooperator has provided all the information that you think you need from the cooperator, but you still don't want to refer openly in public to the target, you might have an under-seal addendum. oftentimes you would continue to keep the case open because you might need to use the cooperator to actually testify in court. so this could mean that the special counsel isn't contemplating that, or it could just mean the special counsel and general flynn felt that the time was such, given that he has already substantially cooperated and perhaps in the course of that cooperation, they felt
comfortable that if they need to call upon him again, he'll be there. >> now, without getting into details, you knew a lot about why there was a need to investigate russian interference into the election. >> mm-hmm. >> and a big question has been, why is this taking so long? and even within the context that you guys take a long time on the federal level, no disrespect, this is not long and has been very productive. do you believe that the time and what your understanding is of the different paths that mueller is taking, are they justified by what you understand of the context of the investigation? >> well, i'm not surprised about the amount of time. i mean there were 19 interviews as this document says. and, remember, the special counsel has a wide-ranging investigation. so it's not as though at any point in time they're looking only at let's talk to michael flynn, and let's see what he has to say. what an investigator is going to
do in this case and in other cases is you're going to talk to a witness that's going to give you information that you then need to go do more work on to corroborate, to see where it might lead, and then that might give you information that makes you want to go back to that witness. so these things take time. and so particularly when you see 19 interviews and the amount of time, it's not surprising to me at all because they probably get some information. they go work on it. they see what it leads to. they take it back to general flynn, ask him what he thinks about that, et cetera, et cetera. >> is there a suggestion that if they're letting him get sentenced now, even though they feel confident they could call him back, that whatever other targets they have can't be that high value because you wouldn't want to take any chances. if you're going after somebody who is very close to the president or somebody who is in the sanctum sank for um, really close, you don't finish anything before you finish that. >> so not necessarily.
with 19 interviews, they have got a rapport built between the special counsel and general flynn and probably a relationship of trust has been built up over the course of this many interviews and given the document and given the recommendation for no jail time, that says to me that the prosecutor is satisfied with the cooperation and feels like it's truthful and honest and helpful, or he wouldn't file a document like this. so i don't think it necessarily signals anything about who the targets might be and how high-level or low-level they might be. >> you think there's still a lot of wood chop to be done here in this investigation? >> you know, that's hard to say. i think this could be one piece of it that they feel like they've, you know, gotten what they need, enough to go to sentencing. but there's a lot of other things still going on. >> i mean we know there are redactions, so there's obviously at least one other criminal investigation going on. and is it possible -- what i have been hearing in my reporting is maybe they'll end one part of the investigation. like, all right. we got the president's answers on these things.
we know what he says he knew and what he didn't. i can't charge him anyway with anything, so that's over. but i'm still looking at this. is that possible? >> it's totally possible. we've already seen that as you've seen different charging documents come out, and you've seen pieces of it wrap up. i mean we thought, you know, at some point after manafort pled guilty and it looked like he was going to cooperate, that could have potentially opened up entire new avenues. that seems now to not be the case now that mueller has filed -- >> are you surprised at how productive this has been, the number of indictments, the number of people around the president who have lied about matters concerning russia? >> mueller is very good at what he does. he has an excellent team. i've worked with a number of those people, so, no, i'm not surprised. >> you still have cohen. you it ill have manafort this week. how do these three rank for you
in terms of what you're interested to see? >> you know, it's hard to say until we see a little bit more. i think when we see the filings that are coming up, you might be able to put pieces together and really, i think, what might be interesting to know is what communications there might have been between these three or how much what they were involved with intersects at various points in time. >> as a general notion, there are two schools of thought in this very divided country. one is i can't wait to read this mueller report and see who has to be punished and who doesn't. the other is this is all b.s. this is all made up, tax dollars at work, and prosecutors doing what they do best, tricking people into doing things so they don't lose the rest of their lives. what is your guidance on whether or not this is much ado about nothing or you know from your own experience there was plenty to look at? >> well, i don't want to talk about what i know from my experience while i was still in doj. but what i will say is that you don't see this quantity of indictments, this many people admitting guilt, this many people making false statements to the fbi if there's nothing there. >> process crimes. is that something that you waive aside as, well, those don't matter? >> process crime