Law & the Courts

Michael Flynn Explains Guilty Plea Withdrawal in New Filing: ‘I Never Lied . . . I Am Innocent’

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives for his sentencing hearing at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., December 18, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters )

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn declared his innocence and said he “never lied” to federal investigators in a new legal filing, the latest step after the retired three-star general moved to withdraw his 2017 guilty plea earlier this month.

Flynn, who pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI regarding his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, directly contradicted his initial plea in the new filing.

“When FBI agents came to the White House on January 24, 2017, I did not lie to them. I believed I was honest with them to the best of my recollection at the time,” Flynn said. “I still don’t remember if I discussed sanctions on a phone call with Ambassador Kislyak nor do I remember if we discussed the details of a UN vote on Israel.”

Flynn centered much of the rationale for the dramatic reversal around the actions of his previous defense team. Led by attorney Sidney Powell, an outspoken defender of President Trump, Flynn’s new defense team has been aggressive in pursuing the government’s case after Flynn’s December 2018 sentencing hearing was delayed.

In an October bombshell, Powell alleged that the FBI manipulated Flynn’s interview notes to imply guilt, a claim Flynn referenced in his Wednesday filing.

Flynn stated that he “never would have pled guilty” had he been aware of reports that the original FBI notes stated that Flynn had a “sure demeanor” and “did not give any indication of deception.” Flynn added that former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe had engaged in a “sudden and intense” pressure campaign to get him to plead guilty, including threatening to go after his son.

“I tried to ‘accept responsibility’ by admitting to offenses I understood the government I love and trusted said I committed,” Flynn said.

Federal prosecutors filed a response to Flynn Wednesday that recommitted to their previous sentencing recommendation of between zero and six months in jail, which Flynn had cited as a “breach” of the plea deal in his initial motion to withdraw his plea on January 14. Prosecutors also included a slight revision that they would “not oppose the imposition of a sentence of probation.”

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