A federal judge said Friday that former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have to testify under oath in order to withdraw from a plea deal he struck with the special counsel’s office.
Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered attorneys in the Flynn case to file legal briefs addressing the need for a hearing “where the parties would present all testimony and evidence concerning the issue of whether Mr. Flynn can show that there is good cause to set aside his guilty pleas.”
Any testimony from Flynn does not guarantee that he will be allowed to scrap his plea agreement. Instead, “testimony from Mr. Flynn and other witnesses under oath, subject to cross-examination,” will be required to show a “fair and just reason” to grant the retired Army general’s motion to withdraw from the deal, Sullivan said. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Lawyers Request Withdrawal Of Guilty Plea, Citing ‘Retaliation’ From Prosecutors)
Flynn’s lawyers requested the plea withdrawal on Jan. 14 in response to prosecutors’ recommendation that Flynn serve up to six months in prison for making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russian diplomat Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017 to making false statements to FBI agents on Jan. 24, 2017 regarding his contacts a month earlier with Kislyak. He met with the special counsel’s team 19 times and gave interviews to federal prosecutors in Virginia as part of an investigation of Bijan Rafiekian, a former partner at Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group.
In a Jan. 7 court filing, prosecutors reversed a previous recommendation that Flynn receive only probation in his case. They asserted that Flynn had “failed” to complete his cooperation with the government, and that he “tried to thwart” the investigation of Rafiekian, who was indicted on charges of conspiring to act as a foreign agent of Turkey.
Prosecutors tabled a plan for Flynn to testify at Rafiekian’s trial over a dispute over his testimony.
Flynn’s lawyers argued in their Jan. 14 motion seeking withdrawal from the plea deal that prosecutors were retaliating against Flynn because of the Rafiekian case.
Flynn and prosecutors were not always at such odds.
Prosecutors recommended in December 2018 that Flynn receive only probation because of his “substantial” cooperation with the special counsel’s investigation. But the tide turned when Flynn pulled out of a Dec. 18, 2018 hearing after Sullivan indicated that he would impose a jail sentence in the case.
Flynn fired his legal team months later and hired Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who was an outspoken critic of the special counsel’s investigation. Powell took a more aggressive approach in the case, pressing the government for information that she said showed Flynn did not lie to the FBI in his January 2017 interview.
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