Justice Department reverses itself on Michael Flynn, asking for up to six months in prison
The Justice Department asked a federal judge to sentence Michael Flynn to up to six months in prison on Tuesday in a reversal of its previous request that the former national security adviser get no time.
The DOJ said Flynn no longer deserved any credit for providing substantial assistance in its investigations or for accepting responsibility for his false statements to the FBI about discussions he had with Russia’s ambassador and his work for Turkey.
“The defendant monetized his power and influence over our government, and lied to mask it,” the DOJ said. “When the FBI and DOJ needed information that only the defendant could provide, because of that power and influence, he denied them that information. And so an official tasked with protecting our national security, instead compromised it.”
The U.S. attorney’s office for D.C. said the “complete record” showed actions by Flynn which “negate the benefits of much of the defendant’s earlier cooperation,” pointing specifically to Flynn’s “affirmative efforts to undermine the prosecution” of his former business partner, Bijan Rafiekian, under the Foreign Agent Registration Act for lucrative work done for the government of Turkey.
Prosecutors also said Flynn’s behavior since his sentencing hearing in 2018, which was delayed until later this month, led prosecutors to believe “through representations by the defendant’s counsel, that the defendant has retreated from his acceptance of responsibility in this case regarding his lies to the FBI.” Prosecutors pressed the judge to ask Flynn “whether he maintains those apparent statements of innocence or whether he disavows them and fully accepts responsibility for his criminal conduct.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 for lying to investigators about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding U.S. sanctions and a U.N. Security Council vote. Former FBI Director James Comey admitted he took advantage of the chaos in the early days of the Trump administration when he sent special agent Peter Strzok and another FBI agent to talk to Flynn.
Flynn agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, admitting then reaffirming his guilt in 2017 and 2018. The defense team that negotiated the plea deal was later fired and, since taking over Flynn’s defense this summer, former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell has argued “there never would’ve been a plea to begin with” if Flynn knew how much information the DOJ was hiding from him.
The DOJ called Flynn’s claims of innocence “an extraordinary reversal.”
Flynn’s new lawyers had claimed DOJ “affirmatively suppressed evidence” that “impugned their entire case” against Flynn while at the same time “putting excruciating pressure on him to enter his guilty plea and manipulating or controlling the press to their advantage to extort that plea” and accused prosecutors of “malevolent conduct.”
Powell did not immediately return the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
Prosecutors claimed that “the only reason the Russian Ambassador contacted the defendant about the sanctions is because the defendant was the incoming National Security Advisor, and thus would soon wield influence and control over the United States’ foreign policy,” and said, “That is the same reason the defendant’s fledgling company was paid over $500,000 to work on issues for Turkey.”
“The defendant monetized his power and influence over our government, and lied to mask it,” DOJ lawyers said. “When the FBI and DOJ needed information that only the defendant could provide, because of that power and influence, he denied them that information. And so an official tasked with protecting our national security, instead compromised it.”
Judge Emmet Sullivan, who has been presiding over the case, said last month “the court summarily disposes of Mr. Flynn’s arguments that the FBI conducted an ambush interview for the purpose of trapping him into making false statements and that the government pressured him to enter a guilty plea” because “the record proves otherwise.”
Flynn’s lawyers will have a chance to file their own sentencing memo with the court, and the final sentencing hearing before Sullivan is scheduled for late January. The sentencing hearing had been scheduled for late last year but was postponed until after the release of DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse report, which found, among other things, that the FBI’s Trump-Russia counterintelligence team used an intelligence briefing of then-candidate Donald Trump and Flynn, his foreign policy adviser, as a “pretext” to gather information for their inquiry.
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