Ex-Trump aide’s motion rejected
A judge dismisses ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn’s FBI attacks and sets a Jan. 28 date for sentencing.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Monday rejected Michael Flynn’s attacks against the FBI and the Justice Department, setting a long-delayed sentencing for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser for Jan. 28.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., dismissed Flynn’s motion to find prosecutors in contempt. In a 92-page decision, Sullivan ruled there was no basis for Flynn’s allegations that federal law enforcement officials entrapped the retired threestar Army general into accepting a plea deal and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors had not wrongfully held back 50 requests for evidence from Flynn’s attorneys.
Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador after the 2016 U.S. election, had been set to be sentenced Dec. 18. Sullivan this month delayed the sentencing pending a report by a Justice Department inspector general on how the FBI handled the Russia investigation, which reviewed topics related to Flynn’s allegations.
The report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released last week found that the FBI was justified in opening its 2016 probe into possible coordination between Russia and four members of the Trump campaign, including Flynn. But the report also found the FBI made significant errors or omissions in applying for intelligence surveillance warrants for one of them, former campaign adviser Carter Page.
Sullivan reviewed Flynn’s more detailed accusations that misconduct by the FBI, Justice Department
and Mueller’s office raised ethical concerns and cast doubt on his investigation, but denied defense claims that they warranted tossing out his plea in favor of a trial or dismissal of his case. Similar to Horowitz’s findings, the court ruling undercut arguments that the FBI investigation or Justice Department prosecution of Flynn was unjustified or improperly handled.
Refuting Flynn’s claims that he was misled into unwittingly plead guilty to charges, Sullivan wrote that it was undisputed that Flynn told the same lies to the FBI, Vice President Mike Pence, and senior White House officials, who repeated them to the American public, leading to his firing in Feb. 2017.
“The sworn statements of Mr. Flynn and his former counsel belie his new claims of innocence and his new assertions that he was pressured into pleading guilty to making materially false statements to the FBI,” Sullivan wrote.
The judge also denied Flynn’s demands for greater disclosure, saying he “fails to explain how most of the requested information that the government has not already provided to him is relevant and material to his underlying offense — willfully and knowingly making materially false statements and omissions to the FBI ... or to his sentencing.”
Sullivan, the longestserving active federal judge on the U.S. District Court in Washington and a judicial appointee of presidents of both parties, enjoys a nationwide reputation for championing defendants rights under the so-called Brady rule, which established the government’s obligation to turn over evidence that can be useful for the defense.
In Flynn’s case, however, Sullivan eviscerated defense claims that the government failed to meet its duties, writing that the court “concludes that Mr. Flynn has failed to establish a single Brady violation.”
Sullivan issued his ruling after written arguments by both sides — but without hearing oral arguments — suggesting his dim view of Flynn’s legal case.
Flynn could still move to withdraw his guilty plea and face a potential trial, or appeal a conviction, but faces a tougher legal path ahead to avoid a potential prison term at sentencing.
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at District Court for a sentencing hearing Dec. 18, 2018.