- A federal judge accepted a request from Michael Flynn to delay sentencing in the special counsel’s probe.
- Flynn’s lawyers agreed to the 90-day delay after Judge Emmet Sullivan berated the former Trump national security adviser for lying to the FBI and working as an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey.
- “Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing.
Michael Flynn’s sentencing in the special counsel’s case was delayed for 90 days on Tuesday during a hearing that saw the judge handling the case question whether the former national security adviser committed treason against the U.S.
Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, took Judge Emmet Sullivan up on an offer to delay sentencing until the retired lieutenant general finishes his cooperation with prosecutors handling other criminal investigations.
The delay comes as a surprise since Flynn’s team appeared poised to go through with sentencing at the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing. The special counsel’s office had recommended that Flynn be sentenced to the low-end of a zero to six month sentencing guideline because of his “substantial cooperation” with prosecutors.
But those plans seemingly went awry after Sullivan lambasted Flynn for lying to the FBI and for working as an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey.
“Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said at one point during Flynn’s sentencing.
Flynn rejected an offer from Sullivan to withdraw his guilty plea in wake of questions that his lawyers have raised regarding the circumstances of the fateful Jan. 24, 2017 White House interview in which Flynn lied.
“I appreciate that, but no your honor,” Flynn told Sullivan when asked whether he wanted to change his plea.
Flynn will appear in court again on March 13.
Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017 in the special counsel’s probe to lying to the FBI during a Jan. 24, 2017 interview at the White House regarding his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (RELATED: Mueller Recommends Sentence Of No Jail Time For Michael Flynn, Citing ‘Substantial Assistance)
Flynn also acknowledged making false statements to the Justice Department when he registered as a foreign agent of Turkey on March 7, 2017, several weeks after he was fired as national security adviser.
Two of Flynn’s business partners on a Turkish lobbying project were indicted on Monday in federal court in Virginia. As part of his plea agreement, Flynn could not be charged by the special counsel with lying about his Turkish lobbying activities.
In Tuesday’s hearing, a Mueller prosecutor confirmed widespread speculation that Flynn had cooperated with the Turkish lobbying probe.
“The defendant provided substantial assistance to the attorneys in the Eastern District of Virginia in obtaining that charging document,” Brandon van Grack told Judge Sullivan.
Kelner, the lawyer for Flynn, suggested that Flynn could be called to testify in that case.
Sullivan at one point took Flynn to task over his work for the Turkish government, but ended up walking back some of his harsher remarks after a court recess.
“You were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Advisor to the president,” said Sullivan. After a 30-minute recess, Sullivan corrected his statement, saying that Flynn’s work for Turkey ended in November 2016.
“I felt terrible about that,” Sullivan said of his statement that Flynn was working for Turkey while in the White House.
At one point in the hearing, Sullivan asked van Grack if the special counsel ever considered charging Flynn with treason. Van Grack hesitated, according to reporters in the courtroom, but said that prosecutors never weighed those kinds of charges. Sullivan also walked back the treason question, saying that he did not intend to imply that Flynn was guilty of the crime.
What remained unanswered from the contentious affair is why Flynn made false statements to the FBI about Kislyak. Documents released by Flynn’s attorneys and the special counsel suggest that Flynn knew that his conversations with Kislyak in December 2016 had been captured as part of routine surveillance against foreign diplomats. In that conversation, Kislyak and Flynn discussed sanctions placed against Russians by the Obama administration for meddling in the 2016 election.
Flynn denied to the FBI that he discussed sanctions with Kislyak, even though he suspected that the Russian was under surveillance.
The agents who interviewed Flynn, Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, wrote in memos following the interview that they did not believe Flynn was lying or that he believed he was lying.
Flynn’s attorneys have recently raised questions about the circumstances leading up to that interview.
In a filing submitted last Thursday, Flynn’s lawyers suggested that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe urged Flynn to meet with FBI agents without lawyers present.
Mueller’s office responded in a filing of their own on Friday, disputing the claim that Flynn was entrapped by McCabe.
But asked by Judge Sullivan whether he believed Flynn had been entrapped by the FBI, Flynn attorney Stephen Anthony responded, “No, your honor.”
Flynn also told Sullivan that he knew going into the White House interview that lying to the FBI was a crime.
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