WASHINGTON — Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Trump, had his sentence postponed by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan didn’t mince words in his courtroom remarks, barely hiding his outrage as he pointed out that Flynn had committed a “very serious crime” in the West Wing of the White House. Sullivan at one point wondered aloud whether Flynn had committed treason. “Arguably, this undermines everything this flag over here stands for,” the judge told Flynn. “Arguably, you sold your country out!”
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 for lying to the FBI during an interview that took place in the early days of the Trump administration, when Flynn was Trump’s national security adviser, about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Flynn falsely told FBI agents that he didn’t ask Kislyak to have Russia refrain from retaliating against the U.S. in response to a new round of sanctions imposed by the outgoing Obama administration (he did). He also said he didn’t remember a follow-up conversation with Kislyak (that did in fact occur) during which Kislyak said Russia would temper its response to the new U.S. sanctions at Flynn’s request.
Flynn’s lies and omissions, wrote lawyers working for Mueller, “impeded and otherwise had a material impact on the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the existence of any links or coordination between individuals associated with the [2016 Trump] Campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.”
According to his plea deal, Flynn’s crime carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
As part of that deal, Flynn agreed to fully cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. In a recent sentencing memo, Mueller revealed that Flynn had given 19 interviews over the past year with members of the special counsel’s office and other Justice Department attorneys. Flynn provided “firsthand information about the content and context” of interactions between Trump’s transition team (of which Flynn was a part) and Russian government officials. He also offered assistance in a “criminal investigation” separate from Mueller’s probe.
Mueller asked the judge to issue a light sentence for Flynn based in part on his extensive cooperation with the special counsel’s office. At Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Flynn told Judge Emmet Sullivan that he understood he’d committed a crime and declined the opportunity to postpone his sentencing or withdraw his guilty plea. “I would like to proceed,” he told the judge.
Trump, for his part, wished Flynn luck in a Tuesday morning tweet, saying it “will be interesting what he has to say”:
Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2018
Mueller’s investigation, now in its 19th month, has resulted in criminal charges filed against more than 30 people and three Russian organizations. That list of people includes Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer; Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman; and two former campaign advisers, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos.