Jim: Joining us now, CNN legal analyst, Page Pate, and chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff. Michael, if I could begin with you. You, of course, have been following the Russia investigation from the very beginning here.
Focusing on Flynn for a moment, it was interesting, in mid-September, the last we had a special counsel filing on Flynn, Mueller made certain that nothing would be revealed then, prior to the midterms, which seemed to be an indicator that his cooperation has netted something that is politically important, possibly explosive. Now we’re past the midterms.
Does that lead you to believe, in this filing, we will learn something about what has been the outcome, really, of Flynn’s cooperation and how it fits into the broader picture here?
Michael: Right. Well, we’re certainly gonna learn a lot, because this will be the first time the special counsel will be presenting, in public, any reference to what they’ve learned from Michael Flynn. But I think we all, you know, it’s best to wait and not speculate here, because we…as far as we know, we have not seen any public cases, any indictments brought that would be tied to something Michael Flynn has told Mueller’s team.
And the mere fact that they are going ahead with this sentencing today, or filing the sentencing memo, the actual sentencing is next week, is an indication that whatever cooperation they were getting, they don’t need it anymore. They are prepared to tell the court and the public what they’ve learned. So, you know, it’s possible there are sealed proceedings we don’t know about that Flynn’s cooperation has led to.
It’s possible that Flynn has talked about his communications with the President himself, and that might feed into any obstruction report. Or, it may be that Flynn’s cooperation has not led to any indictments of others. You know, it’s, we should just wait and read this with a fine-tooth comb when we get it.
Poppy: We should, indeed. Hold that thought, because I want to get back to you in a moment, Michael, on your fascinating new reporting about where things stand. But, Page, just to respond to what Michael said regarding, you know, we just don’t know yet if Flynn gave anything substantial or useful to Mueller’s team. But if he didn’t, why was his sentence postponed four times?
Page: Right. Poppy, that wouldn’t make any sense at all. I’ve represented a lot of people who cooperate in federal criminal investigations, and the only reason you continue the sentencing date, if there’s active cooperation, is because that individual is helping you in connection with some investigation. Now, we know, at the very beginning, Michael Flynn’s lawyer said, “He has a story to tell and he wants to tell it.”
And he’s been telling that story over the last several months. Now, it is certainly possible that the memo that’s filed today, in advance of sentencing, could be under seal. I think if the investigation is still ongoing, they’re still using Flynn, they may not show all their cards right now. But if they do, then I suspect the investigation is wrapping up, at least as far as Michael Flynn is concerned.
Jim: You heard that there, Michael, Page saying he believes the investigation is wrapping up. As Poppy noted, you have a new piece out. You call this the clearest sign yet, using your words there, that Mueller’s long-running probe may be reaching its critical peak. And again, I take your caveat, well, because, as I always say, you know, Mueller’s investigation is like a black hole. You only know what’s going on there based on its effect on other bodies, right?
Jim: Because it’s such a tight, black box. But reading those signals, what leads you to believe that this is in the final stages?
Michael: Well, a number of things. I mean, first of all, the fact that this week, which is going to be quite a week, you know, we’re getting the sentencing memos on Flynn, on Michael Cohen, and there will also be a filing relating to Paul Manafort about what Mueller’s people believe he has lied to them about. Now, and, you know, perhaps the most significant part of what I reported last night was that Mueller’s people are saying that the Manafort filing will be public.
There may be some redacted portions. There may be a redacted addendum. But they do expect to making this public. So what that tells me is, you know, again, I go back to what I was saying about Flynn, all of these could have been put off by Mueller if he was still getting substantial cooperation in an ongoing matter. There was no… You know, sentencing, as I’m sure Page knows, can be put off indefinitely. Some people go years while they’re cooperating…
Page: That’s true.
Michael: …without having a…without getting sentenced. So the fact that Mueller is going to be making public filings on all these three major, high-profile defendants is an indication that whatever he’s learned from them, he’s learned, and he’s ready to move on. You know, that plus some other, you know, signals, smoke signals we’re getting that, you know, I quote one source saying that defense lawyers are being told they are tying up loose ends, that people on the Hill are being told that, at least on the obstruction phase, Mueller’s team is not objecting to calling of key witnesses. So I think all this points to an investigation that is in its fourth quarter, climactic end game.
Poppy: All right. Thank you, both.
Jim: Fourth quarter.
Poppy: Fourth quarter.
Jim: We’ll see.
Poppy: Just seems like it’s been a long game. Everyone read Michael Isikoff’s piece. It’s fascinating. Thank you, Michael and Page. We appreciate it.
Page: Thank you.
Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of our firm’s “The Federal Docket” and a contributor to Mercer Law Review’s Annual Survey in the areas of federal law. Tom was named a “Top 40 Under 40” lawyer by The National Trial Lawyers, and is a recognized expert in federal sentencing law. He graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.