Political News

Michael Flynn's sentencing postponed after he asks to change his guilty plea

Posted January 16, 2020 12:51 p.m. EST

— Michael Flynn's sentencing is delayed again.

The sentencing hearing for President Donald Trump's first national security adviser is now set for February 27, more than two years after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The delay comes days after Flynn asked the court to allow him to withdraw his guilty plea, because he now claims he is innocent.

Flynn had been set to be sentenced in two weeks for lying to the FBI in the early days of the Trump administration, and prosecutors had sought jail time for him. He faces a likely sentence of zero to six months in prison.

It's unusual for a relatively straightforward single charge like Flynn's to hang in the court system this long -- but Flynn's case has been unusual for the political attention it's drawn. The President has tweeted to wish him good luck in recent months, and right-wing commentators have frequently held him up as a conspiratorial symbol of the Deep State's undermining of Trump's administration.

When he pleaded guilty, Flynn became one of the most significant cooperators to speak to the Mueller investigation about the President's potentially obstructive actions.

The additional month delay before a sentencing hearing will allow for Judge Emmet Sullivan of the DC District Court to consider Flynn's request to pull out from his plea deal. Prosecutors will also have a chance to respond.

Since pleading guilty and agreeing to help the Mueller investigation in December 2017, Flynn has told two federal judges under oath that he wanted to plead guilty and had done what prosecutors accused him of doing.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during an interview in the White House regarding conversations he had with the then-Russian ambassador to the US during the Trump transition.

As part of his plea, he also admitted to submitting a lobbying disclosure to the US that omitted his lobbying firm's work for Turkey.

He has focused on contesting the lobbying admission in his most recent court filings.

His sentencing has already been delayed for more than a year so that Flynn could testify at a trial this summer against his ex-lobbying partner. But he didn't testify, after his attorneys told prosecutors he could no longer admit to hiding the Turkey work from the Justice Department.

Before the trial, prosecutors had told the judge he gave them substantial help in the lobbying investigation and sought for him to be sentenced to as little as no jail time, which is what Flynn sought. Sullivan had nearly sentenced him at a hearing in December 2018, but after the judge reacted harshly to Flynn's lies, Flynn asked for a delay so he could help prosecutors even more.

That didn't happen. Since then, Flynn hired lawyers who've pushed conspiracy theories about special counsel Robert Mueller's team and publicly suggested the President should pardon him.

"He rightly refused to lie for the government, and his new counsel would not allow him to do so, nor allow the government to bully him into acquiescence," Flynn's attorneys wrote when they asked the judge to tear up his plea.

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