President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn deserves up to six months in prison, the Justice Department said Tuesday in a reversal of its earlier stance. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the then-Russian ambassador to the US. He met repeatedly with prosecutors over the following months and was to have been sentenced in December 2018. But the hearing was upended when a sharp rebuke from a judge raised the prospect that he might send Flynn to prison even though prosecutors hadn't sought that punishment, reports the AP. Flynn asked for the hearing to be postponed so he could continue cooperating with the government in hopes of avoiding prison and proving his value as a witness. The case has taken a tumultuous turn since then.
The Justice Department opted not to have Flynn testify in the Virginia trial of a former business associate, denying him a chance to be credited for that cooperation. He also fired his lawyers and replaced them with new ones who have accused prosecutors of withholding documents that they said was favorable to Flynn. Prosecutors, for their part, now accuse him of seeking at times "to thwart the efforts of the government to hold other individuals, principally Bijan Rafiekian, accountable for criminal wrongdoing." Other lines from the federal prosecutors' filing, per the Washington Post and CNBC:
- "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,'" wrote prosecutor Brandon Van Grack in a court filing.
- "The government also does not believe the defendant should receive credit for acceptance of responsibility,” prosecutors wrote. “Indeed, the government has reason to believe, through representations by the defendant’s counsel, that the defendant has retreated from his acceptance of responsibility in this case regarding his lies to the FBI."
Flynn's lawyers have until Jan. 13 to respond. Sentencing is set for Jan. 28. (Read more Michael Flynn