The sentencing for Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, has been delayed, meaning Flynn will wait to learn his fate after having pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election.
Last year, Flynn admitted he lied to the FBI over his contact with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the 2016 election. Flynn had expected to find out Tuesday if he would become the latest Trump associate to end up with a prison sentence, but his attorneys took U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s offer to delay sentencing after it appeared the judge could hand down prison time to Flynn.
“Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out," Sullivan told Flynn after reviewing the allegations made against the former Trump adviser. “I cannot assure you, if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentence of incarceration.”
Instead, Sullivan scheduled a status hearing for Flynn on March 13.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s been a wild morning,” said CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.
Flynn, who served in Trump’s campaign, transition, and administration, faces up to six months in prison, and up to a $9,500 fine. His attorneys have asked the court to keep him out of prison and instead sentence him to probation, citing his cooperation with Mueller’s investigation.
Here are the latest updates:
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders stood by her statement that the FBI “ambushed” Flynn during a rare press briefing at the White House Tuesday afternoon, even after Flynn’s own defense attorney told a federal judge that was not the case.
Sanders told reporters she based her claim on the testimony of former FBI director James Comey, who she falsely suggested coerced Flynn into not including the White House counsel during his questioning “because it was the Trump administration, and they thought they could get away with it.”
But according to the redacted notes of Flynn’s interview, released by Mueller Monday night, FBI agents gave Flynn the opportunity to include the White House counsel, which would have required greater involvement from the Justice Department. Flynn declined.
Jim Sciutto, CNN chief national security correspondent:
Renato Mariotti, former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst:
Aaron Blake, Washington Post senior political reporter:
Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher:
Judge Sullivan agreed to a request made by Flynn’s lawyers to delay sentencing in the case, setting a status hearing for March 13.
“This was unexpected” wrote AP justice department reporter Eric Tucker.
Flynn has requested a recess after Sullivan asked if the former national security adviser could have been charged with treason.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume at 12:30 p.m.
Sullivan harshly criticized Flynn for acting as a “unregistered agent of a foreign country” while serving as the national security adviser, according to multiple reporters inside the courtroom.
“Arguably, this undermines everything this flag over here stands for! Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said, according to reporters.
Flynn told Sullivan that he “was aware” he was lying to the FBI during his January 2017 interview, according to multiple reporters in the courtroom.
Flynn told Sullivan he did not wish to withdraw his guilty plea. According to CNN’s Katelyn Polantz, Flynn’s attorney Stephen Anthony said his client wasn’t entrapped by the FBI, as many Trump supporters have claimed in recent days.
“Are you continuing to accept responsibility for his false statements?” Sullivan asked Flynn, according to CNN. “I am, you’re honor,” Flynn responded.
Despite having revealed last year that he fired Flynn for both lying to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence, Trump wished his former national security adviser “good luck” on Twitter hours before Flynn’s sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin.
Last week, Flynn’s attorneys also claimed their client was interviewed without a lawyer present and was not told in advance that lying to the FBI was a crime. In response, Mueller blasted Flynn for attempting to “minimize the seriousness” of his crimes, and released a memo detailing the FBI’s January 2017 interview with Flynn.
The memo, released Monday night, describes two separate lies the FBI said Flynn told to FBI agents. One involved Flynn denying he attempted to influence Russia’s vote in the United Nations involving Israeli settlements. Another details Flynn’s contact with Kislyak regarding the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats ordered by then-President Obama following Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.
Flynn’s sentencing comes a little less than a week after Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison for a host of federal crimes, including campaign-finance violations that involve hiding payouts to silence two women — former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels — who claimed they had sexual encounters with Trump.
The Justice Department said Trump directed Cohen to make the payment, the most explicit link prosecutors have made between the president and a federal crime.
Indictments against two of Flynn’s former business associates — Bijan Kian and Kamil Ekim Alptekin — were unsealed Monday on conspiracy charges related to attempts to secure the extradition of an exiled Turkish cleric living in the Poconos.
According to the New York Times, the two men were indicted “as part of a conspiracy to violate federal lobbying rules” in an attempt to conceal that Turkey was directing their work in an attempt to force the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish president Recep Erdogan blames for an attempted coup in 2016.
Kian, who also worked as an intelligence advisor to the Trump administration, pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va. U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga set a Feb. 11 trial date, according to Bloomberg.