This is not what was supposed to happen.
Today, former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn showed up in federal court to plead guilty to lying to FBI agents. What happened was Flynn was basically told that if he pleaded guilty he was looking at jail despite prosecution recommendations.
Michael Flynn's sentencing delayed; judge tells ex-Trump adviser he may not avoid prison: 'Arguably, you sold your country out' https://t.co/A1SXVFBkwf
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) December 18, 2018
First, Flynn’s attorneys had been making noises like Flynn was pleading guilty to avoid a trial rather than pleading guilty because he was, you know, actually guilty. In fact, the judge chastised Flynn’s lawyers over that and made Flynn admit that he lied and knew he was lying and even specified the location as “in the West Wing.”
It actually worked against Flynn. Judge Sullivan asked Flynn's lawyers how implying that he was entrapped was consistent with Flynn's accepting responsibility for his crime. Flynn's lawyer then had to walk it back, and said the decision to raise those points was counsel's alone. https://t.co/v3HBPqTt50
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) December 18, 2018
The judge asked Flynn several times if he wanted to consult with his attorneys about proceeding with the plea agreement. And then the judge lowered the boom. In fact, at one point the judge asked prosecutors if Flynn had committed treason. I AM NOT MAKING THAT UP.
Sullivan reminded Flynn he could get into “more trouble” if he were to lie in court, then asked, “Were you not aware that lying to FBI investigators was a crime?”
“I was aware,” Flynn said.
The judge asked if he wanted to postpone the sentencing, or reconsider his plea.
“I would like to proceed your honor,” Flynn said.
“Because you are guilty of this offense?” the judge responded.
“Yes, your honor,” Flynn said.
Flynn has been expected to make a personal plea for Sullivan to show him leniency, though the judge indicated early he was not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense,” Sullivan said.
“Could he be charged with treason?” Sullivan asked special counsel prosecutor Brandon Van Grack.
“It’s such a serious question, I’m hesitant to answer it,” Van Grack responded.
The judge sentencing Flynn asked if his conduct "rises to the level of treasonous activity." Special counsel prosecutors said they didn't consider charging him with such. "Could he have been charged with treason?” the judge asks.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 18, 2018
A status report on whether Flynn is ready for sentencing will be due by March 13 at noon
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) December 18, 2018
IANAL, so I can only speculate at what happened here. One of two things here. Either the judge is pissed at the whole “entrapped” story he’s seeing in the media an thinks Flynn really is a lying sack of something and wants to make that point…or he thinks Flynn is right and is going to force him to reject the plea and fight it in order to avoid a jail term. What isn’t on the table is saying he was screwed and still getting no jail time.
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