Breaking on Ari Melber with MSNBC, Special counsel Robert Mueller has filed a motion with the court to delay sentencing Michael Flynn. The motion cites the need for further investigation into the Donald Trump-Russia investigation. If one is Donald Trump, this is not good news, because it means that the Special Counsel’s office continues to find evidence applicable to Trump’s relationship with Russia, and the evidence is such that Mueller’s team wants Flynn’s input into the new evidence as it arises. Furthermore, it is likely that Flynn’s defense attorneys agreed to the motion (otherwise it would be set for a contested hearing), which means Flynn’s attorneys see an advantage in waiting on the sentencing date, so they can point to how “helpful” their client has been throughout the investigation.
Richard Painter, former White House Ethics Counsel, says that the motion, combined with the “leaked” information (likely coming from the White House itself, not Mueller’s office, all four experts on the Ari Melber show agree that the leak came from the Trump defense team), demonstrates that Mueller remains true to the original mission, investigating the extent to which Russia interfered with our election in 2016, and whether Trump assisted Russia.
A new theory has emerged as to why Trump’s own defense team would leak the “questions,” and it is truly “Trumpian” in its logic. It is possible that the Trump defense team believed the only means it could keep Trump from speaking to Robert Mueller was to release the questions to the media. Doing so would ensure that reliable allies on Fox could go crazy about Mueller’s “overreach” and it being a perjury trap. These same allies would go on to discuss why Trump should not have to answer these questions, thereby convincing Trump that he should not have to face such kinds of questions.
As an attorney, I can tell you that this is not generally how we communicate with clients. Generally speaking, a client pays you because the client believes you know more about the process and how to protect a person who is the subject of a criminal investigation. Thus, all you need say is “I think you should decline to be interviewed, because it is the prosecution’s job to gather evidence and in this matter, you will simply be helping them find evidence likely pointing back at you.” That’s almost always all it takes, we don’t leak stuff to the media, knowing our client will watch the news at 10:00 and hear the same advice.
But, I digress. Trump will go to bed tonight knowing that the Mueller investigation is still collecting evidence about his dealings with Russia, and that Michael Flynn is cooperating enough that the investigators want to delay his sentence in order to continue to give Flynn the opportunity to help himself, by helping the investigation. If Mueller’s team went ahead with sentencing at this point, it would not have such a firm guarantee that Flynn would cooperate as fully (though sentences can be made contingent upon continued cooperation).