Shared from the 1/8/2020 The Providence Journal eEdition

Prosecutors seek prison time for Flynn

His persistent attacks on the government render his assistance less than ‘substantial’


President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 18, 2018. [AP FILE]

WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve up to six months in prison, reversing their earlier recommendation of probation because of his drawn-out attacks against the FBI and Justice Department.

The dramatic revocation of the Justice Department’s request for leniency came weeks after Flynn’s sentencing judge on Dec. 16 categorically rejected his claims of prosecutorial misconduct and that he had been duped into pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents about his Russian contacts after the 2016 U.S. election.

“It is within the government’s sole discretion to determine whether the defendant has ‘substantially assisted’ the government,” prosecutor Brandon Van Grack wrote in a 33-page court filing. “In light of the complete record, including actions subsequent to December 18, 2018, that negate the benefits of much of the defendant’s earlier cooperation, the government no longer deems the defendant’s assistance ‘substantial.’”

Flynn, a Middletown native, faces sentencing Jan. 28 before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C. Flynn defense attorney Sidney Powell is scheduled to file his sentencing request on Jan. 22.

The government motion marked the latest twist in the legal saga of the former Army lieutenant general and Trump adviser, whose rocky path after his candidate won the White House included serving the shortest tenure of a national security adviser on record, just 24 days. He then became a key witness in a probe into the administration, before breaking with the prosecutors who had credited him for helping them.

Flynn’s actions punctuated the beginning and end of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election interference, and his latest change of heart came after the investigation formally closed last March. Some Trump allies at that time pushed the president to pardon figures in the probe, particularly Flynn, calls that potential prison term could renew.

Flynn, 61, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to lying about his communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition, becoming the highest-ranking Trump official charged and one of the first to cooperate with Mueller’s office.

Flynn faces up to a five-year prison term under the charge, which included his misrepresentation of work advancing the interests of the Turkish government. However, ahead of Flynn’s initially scheduled sentencing in December 2018, prosecutors said he deserved probation for his “substantial assistance” in several ongoing but undisclosed investigations, as well as his disclosure of “firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.

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