Nearly a year after delaying his initial sentencing, Judge Emmett Sullivan has rejected attempts by former White House national-security adviser Michael Flynn to throw out his previous guilty plea due to prosecutorial misconduct, and set Flynn’s sentencing for January 28.
In a 93-page decision issued Monday, Sullivan rejected claims from Flynn’s defense team that the former three-star general was trapped by FBI agents during questioning over his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of lying to federal agents, only later claiming that he was deliberately manipulated by the FBI in a set-up.
“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 a bombshell claim by Flynn’s team that the FBI tampered with notes from the interview and deliberately withheld exculpatory information from Flynn. Flynn’s defense had argued that the government was required to turn over the original interview document under the Brady rule, which established the government’s obligation to turn over evidence that can be useful for the defense.
In November, the Department of Justice admitted that it had indeed misattributed notes to former FBI Agent Peter Strzok, who was one of two agents to conduct the interview, encouraging Flynn’s allies to believe a positive decision was forthcoming.
“Their entire case depends upon what these two agents said. And now, we’re realizing 18 months later they’re looking at their file and realizing that ‘oh, by the way, we got the names of the two agents crossed on the notes, the notes you thought were Mr. Strzok’s, that we told you were Mr. Strzok’s, are not, they’re the other agent’s, and vice versa,’” Flynn’s defense attorney Sidney Powell told Fox News at the time. “It’s appalling. What else have they gotten wrong? We can’t trust anything they say.”
But in Monday’s ruling, Sullivan pointed out that Flynn was made aware of Strzok’s anti-Trump text messages before signing the original guilty plea agreement, and that Flynn had not established any Brady violations by failing “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.”
“The Court summarily disposes of Mr. Flynn’s arguments that the FBI conducted an ambush interview for the purpose of trapping him into making false statements and that the government pressured him to enter a guilty plea. The record proves otherwise,” Sullivan states in the decision.
Following the ruling, Powell retweeted a message that contested Sullivan’s decision and cited the recently-released IG report, which found “serious performance failures” on the part of the FBI in its investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign, but sided with Sullivan in finding no underhanded political bias.
“The IG Report proves a blatant suppression of Brady material by FBI & Mueller Team. Flynn was targeted LONG before his appointment without just cause. The government hid this information, drug out his legal fees, & then threatened his son to compel a plea – Altered 302’s & more!” the tweet that Powell retweeted reads.