Judge lambasts Michael Flynn and his lawyers, delays sentencing


On Monday, a day before the sentencing hearing for Michale Flynn, his business associates were charged with illegally lobbying for Turkey:

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment Monday charging two business associates of Michael T. Flynn with acting as agents of the Turkish government, describing in remarkable detail how the three attempted to persuade the United States to expel a rival of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Throughout the fall of 2016, while Flynn served publicly as a key surrogate and foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, prosecutors say he and business partner Bijan Kian took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Turkish government to push for the extradition from the United States of dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen. Their efforts, prosecutors said, were directed by Kamil Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman with close ties to the country’s leadership.

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By prosecutors’ account, the foreign government found a powerful and enthusiastic ally in Flynn — who was willing on the eve of the presidential election to pen an op-ed pushing for Gulen’s expulsion.

Flynn, who went on to serve as President Trump’s national security adviser, admitted last year to lying about his consulting firm’s business with the Turkish government and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in a deal with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team. That almost certainly helped produce charges against Kian and Alptekin. But the indictment Monday spells out for the first time how intimately Flynn was involved in the effort, which involved weekly conference calls to coordinate with Turkish officials.

Michael Flynn’s attorneys attempted to imply that he was tricked into lying to the FBI. In response, the judge in Flynn’s case asked for more information about Flynn’s interview. The Special Counsel excoriated Flynn’s lawyers in his reply brief to the court.

Trump TV and the conservative media entertainment complex concocted a conspiracy theory of some kind of “perjury trap,”and Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal editorial board even went so far as to accuse the FBI of “entrapment”, which is a very specific legal term that clearly does not apply in this case. The Trumpsters fantasized that Flynn’s guilty plea might even be thrown out.

Just the opposite happened at Flynn’s sentencing hearing today. Trump backers just had their anti-Mueller hopes and dreams dashed:

At Flynn’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan made a point of making sure that Flynn stated (and restated) that he lied to the FBI, that he knew it was wrong to do so and that he accepted responsibility. Sullivan asked Flynn whether he knew that lying to the FBI was illegal, and Flynn said, “I was aware.” The judge gave Flynn several chances to withdraw his guilty plea, and Flynn opted to proceed.

Then Sullivan went big. “Arguably, you sold your country out,” he told Flynn, adding: “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain, for this criminal offense.” He even invoked treason, asking the government whether they considered such a charge. (The government said it had not.) Sullivan suggested Flynn was working as a foreign agent while serving in the White House — a claim which he later backed off.

Sullivan was clearly seeking to uproot the seeds of doubt planted by Flynn’s attorneys in the sentencing memo, which alleged that the government treated Flynn differently than other witnesses by urging him not to bring an attorney to questioning and failing to tell him that lying was illegal.

Keep in mind that Judge Sullivan knows all of the factual details that have been redacted in the public facing sentencing memo for Michael Flynn. When the judge tells Flynn “you sold your country out,” and raises the prospect of a treason charge against him, there must be some serious allegations in the redacted material that do not bode well for Team Trump, because the Special Counsel asked only for the minimum against Flynn who provided “substantial assistance” in his investigation.

In any event, Flynn sentencing was abruptly postponed to allow for cooperation in Mueller probe:

A federal judge abruptly postponed the sentencing of President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, on Tuesday, saying he could not hide his disgust for Flynn’s crime of lying to the FBI and warning that he could send the retired Army lieutenant general to prison.

Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!” Karma’s a bitch, baby.

Lawyers for Flynn, who pleaded guilty last year to lying to the agency about his Russia contacts, requested the delay during a stunning hearing in which U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan gave Flynn a blistering rebuke.

“Arguably you sold your country out,” Sullivan told Flynn, who was flanked by his attorneys.

The judge added: “I can’t hide my disgust, my disdain.”

Sullivan’s harsh words raised the prospect that he could send Flynn to prison — an unexpected development since prosecutors have recommended against prison time, citing his cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

The new delay in sentencing will allow Flynn to continue cooperating with the Russia investigation and get credit for it in his punishment. The change upset what had been a carefully crafted agreement, with Mueller’s office saying Flynn had already provided “the vast majority” of information he could.

Flynn, who served as national security adviser for only a few weeks, was to be the first White House official sentenced in Mueller’s investigation. Prosecutors had praised his cooperation and recommended against prison, and Tuesday’s sentencing was expected to be relatively straightforward. Flynn had expected to walk out the courthouse a free man.

But the hearing turned on a dime. Sullivan lambasted Flynn for lying to the FBI in the West Wing of the White House and said he wouldn’t allow Flynn to minimize the seriousness of his crime.

After a prosecutor raised the prospect of Flynn’s continued cooperation with other investigations in the future, Sullivan warned Flynn that he might not get the full credit for his assistance to the government if he were sentenced as scheduled.

Prosecutors noted that Flynn had provided the “vast majority of his cooperation” already. But Sullivan gave a visibly shaken Flynn a chance to discuss a delay of the hearing with his lawyers, and the court went into a brief recess.

When they returned, Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner defended Flynn’s cooperation but requested a postponement to allow for him to keep cooperating. Kelner said he expected Flynn would have to testify in a related trial in Virginia involving Flynn’s former business associates, and the defense wanted to “eke out the last modicum of cooperation” so he could get credit in any sentence.

Kelner asked Sullivan not to penalize Flynn for arguments his lawyers made in sentencing memos that appeared to suggest the FBI had tricked Flynn into lying. He said they only included those to differentiate Flynn from other defendants in the case who had received short prison sentences for lying.

But Sullivan fired back.

“Neither of those individuals were a high-ranking official who committed a crime while in the West Wing and on the premises of the White House,” the judge said.

At the hearing, Sullivan told Flynn that he would take into account his extensive cooperation with the government, which includes 19 meetings with investigators as well as a 33-year military career that included service in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he also said he was forced to weigh other factors, including Flynn’s decision as national security adviser to lie to the FBI about contacts he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The judge set a new hearing date for March. Flynn left the courthouse hand-in-hand with his wife, climbing into a large, black SUV as protesters heckled [him].

At the White House afterward, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if the administration had changed its stance on Flynn or the FBI in light of his admissions and guilty plea.

“Maybe he did do those things, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the president,” she said. “It’s perfectly acceptable for the president to make a positive comment about somebody while we wait to see what the court’s determination is.”

Sanders repeated [the conspiracy theory] that the FBI “ambushed” Flynn in an interview in which he denied contacts with Russian officials, and she said of Trump’s earlier criticism, “We don’t have any reason to want to walk that back.”

Flynn’s voluntary testimony under oath entirely contradicts this B.S. conspiracy theory. But “that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.” Lying losers.

UPDATE: The White House lost its narrative on Michael Flynn. So Sarah Huckabee Sanders made up some stuff about James Comey instead.:

When Michael Flynn told the judge that he didn’t feel duped into lying, as his and Trump’s supporters alleged, .it rendered Sanders’s argument earlier in the day that Flynn had been “ambushed” [total bullshit].

So she changed the subject to James B. Comey — and butchered what Comey actually said.

Flynn didn’t make the case the White House desired, so Sanders suggested Comey had.

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The first problem with this is that Comey never said the Flynn interview was inappropriate, or anything of the sort. In an interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace last week, he said FBI agents would normally go through the White House Counsel’s Office to interview the likes of Flynn. But he never said that was FBI “protocol” or even required. Instead, he was remarking on the lack of organization in the Trump White House, especially in its early days.

Comey wasn’t saying that the agents didn’t run through the proper channels; he’s saying the White House didn’t run it through the proper channels. Comey’s “gotten away with” phrasing does make it sound somewhat nefarious, but his point was broadly about how the White House would normally stand in the way of such things — not that there was anything wrong with what the agents did. If there was a protocol that was broken, it was the White House’s own.

Sanders went on to say Comey admitted protocol had been broken in two other ways: “in the way that they questioned [Flynn], and in the way that they encouraged him not to have White House Counsel’s Office present.” That is quite simply nowhere to be found in Comey’s comments — anywhere.

“Sanders’s summary of  Comey’s comments is wrong in multiple ways — and the fact that she has to effectively invent things that he said in defense of the White House’s Flynn allegations pretty much says it all about how much substance is behind them.”

The lying liars of the Trump administration have so fouled the White House with their presence that it is going to take an acid power wash to remove the stain and stench from this administration.

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