Moments ago in a Washington D.C. federal court, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan delayed Michael Flynn’s sentencing.
During the proceedings, according to Tim Ryan, a reporter for Courthouse News, Judge Sullivan touched on Flynn’s claims that he was misled by the FBI during his January 24, 2017 interview in which Flynn had lied to FBI agents. Sullivan said that these claims by Flynn could “affect or call into question” Flynn’s plea agreement.
Flynn told Sullivan that he did not wish to challenge the circumstances surrounding his interview with the FBI and said that he does in fact take responsibility for his actions. Flynn also told the judge that he was “aware” that lying to the FBI was a crime. This seemingly would put to rest any notion that he was misled in any way.
Tim Ryan also reported that Robert Kelner, Flynn’s attorney, told the judge that they raised these concerns about the FBI interview because they wanted to distinguish Flynn’s case from other targets of Mueller who had been sentenced to prison time. Kelner emphasized that they believe that other targets such as George Papadopoulos had been given more notice than Flynn.
“This is a very serious offense,” Judge Sullivan told Flynn today. “A high ranking senior official of the government making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while on the physical premises of the White House.”
Federal Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack told Judge Sullivan that “it remains a possibility” that Flynn will continue to cooperate with the government. He also stated that Flynn had provided “substantial assistance” in the indictment that was unsealed in Virginia yesterday against two of his associates. Prosecutors confirmed that they could have charged Flynn in this very indictment but instead decided to spare him, according to Ryan J. Reilly of the Huffington Post.
Judge Sullivan offered Flynn the option to put off sentencing, which could give him more opportunity to cooperate with federal prosecutors, and potentially provide him with lesser of a sentence, saying “The more you assist the government the more you arguably help yourself at the time of sentencing,” according to CNN’s Jim Sciutto.
Sullivan then laid into Flynn, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out. The court’s going to consider all that. I cannot assure you that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration….. I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.”
Sullivan, at one point, asked the prosecutors if Flynn could have been charged with treason for his role in interfering with Obama-imposed Russian sanctions. Prosecutors originally did not want to provide a detailed answer, simply saying that since it was such a serious charge, they didn’t want to speculate. Sullivan later clarified that he was not suggesting that Flynn “committed treason”, and said “don’t read too much into the questions I asked.”
Over a year ago, back in December of 2017, Flynn pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI about his communications with Russia. The false statements came while Flynn described his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which included discussions related to U.S. sanctions on Russian interests.
According to NBC news, the conversations with Kislyak came at the urging of the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland.
At the time of Flynn’s plea deal last year, White House officials stated that they were caught off guard by the move, which made Mr. Flynn the first senior Trump administration official to cooperate and plead guilty as a part of the Mueller probe.
Mueller and fellow prosecutors working with the Special Counsel’s office recommended a light sentence in their sentencing memo earlier this month, arguing that Mr. Flynn provided “substantial assistance” to their investigation. Despite their lenient stance, Flynn’s own attorneys have argued that their client was entrapped by the FBI into lying about his Russian contacts. Mueller and the Special Counsel appear to have dispelled this myth in a 302 FBI memo they released last night.