After waiting all day with bated breath, cable news network talking heads learned nothing new in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-redacted court fling on President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, which was released Tuesday night.
TV news pundits had hoped today’s filing would provide a juicy look behind the curtain hiding Mueller’s probe from public view all these months and months.
In the 13-page document, Mueller asks that Flynn be sentenced to no prison time, citing his “substantial” assistance; the interesting bits, however, were redacted. Lots of redactions.
Navel lint gazers were left marveling at the revelation Flynn that had been interviewed – 19 times!
“The frustrating part of this, for those of us who are interested in the case, is that the core of his cooperation is blacked out,” CNN’s legal guru Jeffrey Toobin complained on air. “So, what he told Mueller about the Russia investigation, as far as I can tell, is not disclosed at all. There is page after page of blacked-ut information.”
The mood wasn’t better over at MSNBC, where Chris Hayes asked anxiously, “How much information do we have here?” and former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman broke the bad news: “Very, very little. … Basically all of the information about the ongoing investigation is redacted. It doesn’t include anything in public that would reveal anything we don’t know already.”
Agreed legal pundit Barbara McQuade, “After waiting so long, it’s a little bit unsatisfying to see just a lot of black lines on a page.”
NBC News national security reporter Ken Dilanian dug for drama in all the redaction, pronouncing it proof the Mueller probe still has a long way to go.
“I think there’s some time to go, and I think this underscores it,” Dilanian argued. “There are some very sensitive matters that obviously they don’t want revealed to the targets and the witnesses and the public that they’re still pursuing.”
Even Sean Hannity was unhappy over at Fox News Channel, though he had a different beef with the court filing.
“This is how America’s going to treat a military hero?!” Hannity growled. “This is a sad and pathetic moment, not only for the special counsel, but for the country.”
Flynn had played a major role in Trump’s march to the White House. In addition to leading some of those yeasty “Lock her up!” chants at campaign events, Flynn took over the transition of administrations after Chris Christie was fired.
Flynn, in turn, was fired three weeks into the administration but had been silent since pleading guilty a year ago this week to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. at the end of 2016 about sanctions imposed against the country by President Obama. TV news talking heads who had been waiting all day for the document had visions of Mueller’s report revealing who in Trump’s inner circle knew about that contact.
In exchange for a Mueller-recommended reduced prison sentence, Flynn has been cooperating with the investigation into Russian rannygazoo re the election. Over the year, Flynn’s sentencing was delayed four times, suggesting he still was being helpful to Mueller with information considered useful.
Last month, Mueller and Flynn’s attorney told the U.S. District Court they were ready for sentencing.
Lying to the FBI could have landed Flynn five years in the slammer and a $250K fine. Flynn’s plea agreement suggested he get somewhere between “Scott Free,” as Trump would put it, and six months.