- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2020

A federal judge Thursday postponed the sentencing of Michael Flynn, two days after the former national security adviser sought to withdraw his guilty plea.

The sentencing hearing had been set for Jan. 28, but was moved to Feb. 27.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington did not issue a decision on Flynn’s request to change his plea. Instead, he asked for additional filings on the matter over the next month.

Under the schedule spelled out in Judge Sullivan’s brief order, Flynn must file additional briefings by Jan. 22 and the government has until Feb. 5 to respond.

Flynn on Tuesday asked to withdraw his guilty plea less than two weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced. His legal team cited “bad faith” and “vindictiveness” on behalf of government prosecutors as the reasons for the change.

“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 in a filing Tuesday night.

“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. As part of his guilty plea, he agreed to cooperate with its probe into Russian interference 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 the relationship between Flynn and the government soured over the past year. He scrapped his high-powered legal team last year 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 of wrongdoing.

Judge 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.

Mr. 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 their leniency pledge earlier this month, asking that he serve at least six months in prison. They said Flynn’s reversal in the Rafiekian case “thwarted” the case.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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