President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn late Tuesday asked a court to let him withdraw his guilty plea for lying to the FBI in the Russia probe.
Flynn’s legal team filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington less than two weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced. They say the guilty plea should be vacated “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement.”
“Mr. Flynn will not plead guilty. Furthermore, he will not accede to the government’s demand that he ‘disavow’ any statements made in his filings since he obtained new, unconflicted counsel,” defense attorney Sidney Powell wrote.
“Michael T. Flynn is innocent. Mr. Flynn has cooperated with the government in good faith for two years. He gave the prosecution his full cooperation,” Ms. Powell continued.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
He was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28. Flynn’s legal team asked the court to delay his sentencing for at least a month. Prosecutors said in a separate filing they would not oppose that request.
Upon pleading guilty, Flynn reached a plea agreement with the special counsel’s office. He promised to cooperate with its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Prosecutors said in December 2018 that Flynn had provided “substantial assistance” to the Russia investigation and recommended that he not serve any jail time.
But soon the relationship between Flynn and his legal team deteriorated. Over the summer, he scrapped his high-powered legal team and hired Ms. Powell, a fierce critic of the special counsel’s investigation.
Ms. Powell repeatedly accused the Justice Department of withholding evidence that she claims could exonerate Flynn and other wrongdoing.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan last month dismissed Ms. Powell’s assertions that the FBI improperly pressured him into pleading guilty.
Flynn had also agreed to be the star cooperating witness in the government’s case against his former business partner Bijan Rafiekian. Prosecutors say Flynn changed his testimony just before the trial summer, forcing them to keep him away from the witness stand.
Rafiekian was convicted of violating foreign lobbying laws by a federal jury in Alexandria, Virginia, but the judge later threw out the verdict.
That appeared to be the last straw for prosecutors who revoked Flynn’s request for leniency earlier this month asking that he serve at least six months in prison.
Prosecutors said Flynn’s reversal in the Rafiekian case “thwarted” their efforts.