WASHINGTON: Their fortunes sliding in divergent directions, two former Trump aides are pleading their case to judges Tuesday in hopes of easing the punishment they could face for their crimes.
Lawyers for former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn will make a sentencing recommendation in a court filing due by the end of the day, while Paul Manafort’s defense team is expected to argue that the ex-Trump campaign chairman never intentionally lied to prosecutors.
The defendants represent starkly different paths in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — a model cooperator on one end, and, prosecutors say, a dishonest and resistant witness on the other.
Both men could be a potential threat to President Donald Trump as Mueller examines whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign.
Prosecutors with Mueller said last week that Flynn had been so cooperative in their investigation, meeting with them 19 times, that he was entitled to no prison time. Flynn’s attorneys are also expected to make the same recommendation for their client, who pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his conversations during the presidential transition period with the-then Russian ambassador to the United States.
Since his guilty plea a year ago, Flynn has stayed largely out of the public eye and refrained from discussing the Russia investigation despite encouragement from his supporters to take an aggressive stance.
Tuesday’s filing will be the first opportunity where Flynn’s attorneys, Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony, will lay out his side of the story. The memo is expected to emphasize the retired US Army lieutenant general’s more than 30 years in the military, including five years in combat, and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions early on in the Russia investigation.
The memo could also reflect the toll the investigation has taken on Flynn and his family over the past two years. In a public statement after his plea, Flynn has said he cooperated with prosecutors because it was in “the best interests of my family and our country.”
Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced next week.
In Manafort’s case, prosecutors have accused him of repeatedly lying to them even after he agreed to cooperate. They say Manafort lied about his interactions with a longtime associate they say has ties to Russian intelligence, his contacts with Trump administration officials and other matters under investigation by the Justice Department.
Prosecutors have left open the door to filing additional charges against Manafort, who already faces years in prison.
Manafort’s attorneys have denied the allegations and are expected to present more detailed arguments at a court hearing Tuesday in Washington, where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in September.
Manafort faces sentencing in a separate case in Virginia, where he was convicted of eight felony counts related to his efforts to hide millions of dollars he earned from Ukrainian political consulting from the IRS.