- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn should get probation and no prison time for lying to the FBI, his lawyer said in a court filing Wednesday.

Attorneys for Flynn argued he deserves leniency because he cooperated with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. They also assert he should receive credit for his more than 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, which included dangerous foreign deployments.

“Mr. Flynn dedicated his life to serving his country,” defense attorney Sidney Powell wrote. “While the defendants in other cases cited by the government were working to benefit themselves, Mr. Flynn wrote a blank check on his life and put himself in harm’s way for more than five years in foreign deployments and thirty-three years of service to protect all Americans.”

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 27, but his legal team is seeking to withdraw his guilty plea. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is expected to rule within the next month on whether Flynn can change his plea.

Ms. Powell in Wednesday’s filing urged Judge Sullivan not to schedule a sentencing hearing, in hopes he’ll accept the plea withdraw.

Prosecutors in 2018 had recommended that Flynn not get prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” to the Russia probe. They wrote in a filing that he was among the first defendants to offer cooperation in the special counsel’s probe and provided a road map that led to cooperation from others.

But Flynn’s relationship with the government soured last summer after he fired his legal team and replaced them with Ms. Powell, a combative conspiracy theorist who has fiercely criticized Mr. Mueller during television appearances.

Ms. Powell immediately asserted increasingly nasty claims of prosecutorial misconduct by the government, FBI and others. She has insisted the government operated in “bad faith” and “vindictiveness.”

The animosity culminated last week when Flynn asked to reverse the guilty plea he entered in December 2017 after he copped to lying to investigators about his conversation with a former Russian ambassador.

Flynn is the only Trump administration official to be charged in the Mueller probe. He was fired by President Trump after about a month as national security adviser.

Ms. Powell didn’t hold back in Wednesday’s filing, claiming prosecutor Brandon Van Grack pressured Flynn to lie as a cooperating witness in a foreign lobbying case brought against the Bijan Rafiekian, a onetime Flynn associate.

Flynn and prosecutors clashed over his testimony in the Rafiekian case. The government alleges Flynn changed his story while Ms. Powell says they prompted him to lie.

The government opted not to call Flynn as a witness in the case and said it was a factor in reversing their position on whether he should serve prison time.

But Ms. Powell sees it differently. She said the sentencing reversal is a “pedagogical example of actual vindictiveness.”

“This Court should swiftly reject the government’s brazen attempt to punish Mr. Flynn for refusing to compose rather than sing,” she wrote. “The reversal of its sentencing position is not only unjust, it is unlawful. If left unchecked, it will send a dangerous message to cooperators — give testimony consistent with the government’s theory of the case, regardless of veracity, or pay the price with your freedom.”

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

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