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Trump's ex-aide Michael Flynn seeks to withdraw guilty plea

Edvard Pettersson, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

President Donald Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked to withdraw his guilty plea to lying to federal agents, two weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced, in a further deterioration of his relations with the U.S. Justice Department.

Flynn said he's making the move because of the "government's bad faith, vindictiveness and breach of the plea agreement."

According to Flynn, prosecutors demanded that he admit to knowingly signing a false Foreign Agents Registration Act registration form, which he claims wasn't true. The government also wanted him to testify to this against his former business partner, Bijan Rafiekian, according to his filing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., federal court.

"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," his lawyers wrote.

Flynn asked the judge to delay his sentencing to Feb. 27 from Jan. 28. The government doesn't oppose the delay, he said.

Last week, prosecutors told the judge that Flynn should serve as long as six months in prison for lying to federal agents about contacts with a Russian ambassador.

In 2018, the government had recommended that Flynn get probation based on his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The U.S. changed its position after Flynn adopted a more confrontational approach.

Legal experts have said Flynn's growing truculence clearly seemed aimed at pleasing Trump and winning a possible presidential pardon.

 

Flynn replaced his lawyer in June, hiring Dallas attorney Sidney Powell, who is also a conservative commentator and vocal critic of the Mueller investigation. Within weeks a dispute erupted between the new defense team and prosecutors counting on Flynn's cooperation in the illegal lobbying case against Rafiekian.

In last week's filing, prosecutors said actions and comments by Flynn and his lawyer since his last sentencing hearing in 2018 "negate the benefits of much of the defendant's earlier cooperation." They said they no longer believed he deserved credit for accepting responsibility for his actions.

Flynn served just three weeks as Trump's national security adviser before he was fired for lying about his contacts with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. at the time. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

The case is U.S. v. Flynn, 17-cr-232, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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