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The Latest Developments Involving Manafort And Flynn In Mueller's Investigation

Dec 11, 2018
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It looks to be another hectic week in the ongoing investigation of Russia's efforts to interfere with the U.S. election. In court today, a federal judge asked for more information about possible misconduct by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Trump's one-time personal lawyer is set to be sentenced in New York tomorrow. NPR national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson is here with the latest developments. Hey there, Carrie.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Hi there.

CORNISH: So let's start with Paul Manafort because you were in a D.C. courthouse today. What's going on with him?

JOHNSON: Well, last week, the special counsel said Paul Manafort had basically blown up his plea deal by lying. They say Manafort lied about five different kinds of things, everything from his connections to a business associate they have linked to Russian intelligence to an unspecified ongoing criminal investigation and, most intriguing, his contacts with the Trump administration earlier this year.

Today Judge Amy Berman Jackson says she wants more information about those lies and whether they were intentional, in bad faith. The judge says eventually she needs to make some findings before Manafort gets sentenced early next year. And as for Paul Manafort, he's still in the jail in Alexandria, Va. He was not in court today.

CORNISH: You've also just received a separate filing in another investigation related to Russia, and this one's tied to Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn. We haven't heard this name in a while. What's going on?

JOHNSON: Yeah, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty a year ago, December 2017, to lying to the FBI. Just this evening, his lawyers have asked a judge to sentence him to probation - no more than one year of probation, minimal supervision and 200 hours of community service. His lawyers are citing Flynn's acceptance of responsibility and his extensive cooperation. We had heard last week from the special counsel that Flynn had met with them 19 times. Flynn's lawyer now says he actually sat through 62 hours and 45 minutes of interviews with prosecutors, and he turned over sweeping categories of documents and made some turnovers of electronic devices in his possession as well.

In essence, these lawyers for Michael Flynn are arguing he served in the military for 33 years, including five years in combat. They say he saved a lot of lives. They're citing former military officials, including General Jack Keane - retired General Jack Keane, who claims that Flynn basically revolutionized how intelligence was used in the post-9/11 wars and that he deserves no jail time when he is sentenced next week.

CORNISH: Meanwhile, Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer and fixer - he's facing his own sentencing in New York tomorrow. What's expected to happen there?

JOHNSON: A very different scenario there, Audie. Prosecutors in Manhattan are asking for substantial prison time - four or five years - for Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen did give them some information about Donald Trump. He said the president directed him to make hush money payments to women during the 2016 campaign. But prosecutors still are not happy with him, and he's going to be punished tomorrow. It's going to be up to the judge to decide how much time to give President Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.

CORNISH: That's NPR's national justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thank you.

JOHNSON: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.