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Former U.S. Attorney says tactics used by Special Counsel are nothing new

Mueller Sentencing Papers

With more filings expected Friday in the Special Counsel's probe into alleged ties between the Russian Government and the Trump campaign, pundits are having a field day dissecting 13 pages already released....somewhat. Tuesday, Robert Mueller filed sentencing papers on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The retired General pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and, for the last year, has cooperated in the investigation in order to secure a reduced sentence.

Critics of the Special Counsel accuse Mueller of cooking up charges to get people to "flip" on President Trump and his associates. But former U.S. Attorney Kevin Techau says that's simply not the case. "I'm not aware of a situation where they say, give us this or we're going to come on you like a ton of bricks, it just doesn't work that way." Techau served in the Northern District of Iowa and prosecuted cases in a similar way, asking judges for a reduced sentence for suspects who cooperated with a larger probe. In Techau's case, the practice was largely used in drug cases, not the kind of white-collar crime Mueller is investigating.

Techau says the entire process is far more complicated than critics let on. He says in order to get a reduced sentence, a grand jury must first indict an individual, who can then decide at any point whether or not to offer their cooperation. When that happens, they enter a guilty plea and the cooperation begins. Once complete, the prosecutor again goes to a judge and details the level of cooperation and how it helped in their case. Finally, the judge, and not the prosecutor, gets the final determination on the legitimacy of the plea agreement.

As for the large portions of Mueller's documents that were redacted, Techau says that's very common in cases that require prosecutors to protect a witness, or keep portions of ongoing investigations hidden from potential suspects.

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