Special counsel Robert Mueller has released a January 2017 memo detailing the FBI’s interview that month with Michael Flynn — a moment that led to a high-profile criminal case against the former Trump national security adviser.
In the interview described in the memo, Flynn lied about his contact during the presidential transition in 2016 with then-Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. At times, Flynn offered the FBI agents more benign descriptions of what he and Kislyak had said about Russian policy.
In all, the newly released memo shows clear examples of Flynn denying he had made policy requests of Russia, and the agents prodding him toward fuller descriptions of the calls.
The release of the memo Monday night — on the eve of Flynn’s criminal sentencing for lying to investigators — sets up a clearer picture of what he said to the FBI agents in January 2017. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in that interview and about his lobbying for the Turkish government. He will likely face zero to six months in prison, though Mueller’s team has asked the judge to give him no prison time because he has helped their investigation, along with other federal probes.
Whether the FBI decided Flynn was lying at that moment has become a touch point in President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the Mueller investigation. Trump has latched on to whether Mueller pursued Flynn on a criminal charge at odds with the FBI’s initial findings. Former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s participation in the Flynn interview — and the fact that Flynn was not warned he could be prosecuted for lying and had no lawyer in the room with him when he met with the FBI at the White House — has also cast political shadows on the case.
Trump has alleged the FBI determined that day that Flynn hadn’t lied. Yet the memo from January 24, 2017, that was released Monday night does not say the FBI agents made any determinations at that time. The memo only outlines what Flynn said in a straightforward manner.