Ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn seeks to withdraw guilty plea

Ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn seeks to withdraw guilty plea

Ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn seeks to withdraw guilty plea

By / USA News / Thursday, 16 January 2020 05:57

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn moved late Tuesday to withdraw his guilty plea on charges of lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry, accusing prosecutors of “bad faith” and vindictiveness after they asked a judge to sentence him to prison for backing out of a deal to cooperate with them.

After he cooperated extensively with prosecutors in the Russia investigation, they recommended leniency in late 2018. Flynn even agreed to delay his sentencing at the time to offer further cooperation by testifying against a former business associate in a case in Northern Virginia. But Flynn grew increasingly antagonistic in recent months and hired combative new lawyers in mid-2019.

Those lawyers had tried to convince a federal judge that the FBI had ambushed him as part of a plot by biased investigators, hoping that the case would be thrown out. But the judge rejected those accusations this month as baseless, and prosecutors reversed their stance, saying Flynn should be imprisoned.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency whose case marked a striking downfall, has already pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential transition in late 2016. As part of his agreement with the government, Flynn also admitted that he violated foreign lobbying laws when he failed to disclose work he had done for Turkey.

Flynn’s gamble raises questions about whether he and his lawyers were making a play for a presidential pardon. Trump dismissed Flynn days into his presidency after learning he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence and other senior administration officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, but he has also said Flynn was treated badly by investigators.

In a relatively disjointed motion filed Tuesday, Flynn’s lawyers attempt to make the case that their client lived up to his plea agreement, including helping the case against his former business associate Bijan Kian.

At his original sentencing hearing late in 2018, Flynn reasserted his guilt and acknowledged to prosecutors that he lied about working to influence U.S. officials on behalf of Turkey, though prosecutors charged him only with lying to the FBI as part of the deal to secure his cooperation. But they have made it clear they have evidence to charge him with secretly lobbying for Turkey, crimes that carry a stiffer sentence.

Kian was himself charged with violating foreign lobbying disclosure laws when he worked with Flynn. On the eve of Kian’s trial last year in Virginia, Flynn changed his story, which was critical to the government’s case. Kian was convicted, but the judge later threw out the charges, saying prosecutors had failed to make a strong enough case.

They said Flynn learned only later about problems with foreign lobbying disclosure submitted to the Justice Department. He has blamed his former lawyers for filing inaccurate forms without his knowledge and accused the government of retaliating against him for hiring new lawyers who refused to let their client lie in Kian’s trial.


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