Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, using new lawyers, has fully turned on the prosecutors who cut his guilty-plea deal and who recommended to a judge last year he avoid jail.
His attorneys say prosecutors, including Brandon Van Grack, who worked for special counsel Robert Mueller, have retaliated against him in recent weeks. Flynn had been preparing for months to help them at the trial of his ex-lobbying partner, Bijan Kian, until prosecutors dropped him as a witness at the beginning of the month.
Flynn’s legal team says what he planned to say as a witness wasn’t what the prosecutors wanted. But prosecutors claim Flynn was changing his story.
“Should the government’s case here fail, it will not be because of anything Mr. Flynn did or did not do,” his attorneys wrote on Thursday.
It’s all part of a long turn for Flynn from being a key Mueller cooperator to a hostile defendant.
When Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in December 2017, he became one of the most significant defendants and cooperators in the Mueller investigation. He faces up to five years in prison.
“Mr. Flynn cooperated even further with the government,” his attorneys wrote about his trial preparation Thursday, “in trying to clear up the prosecutors’ misunderstanding of some crucial facts and in response to their questions and demands” about his foreign lobbying work. “Instead of seeking and confirming the truth, prosecutors doubled-down, putting prior counsel in conflict with his former client and his partner’s own contemporaneous notes.”
Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington hasn’t yet sentenced Flynn for lying to investigators about phone calls with the former Russian ambassador and on his lobbying forms. Sullivan had put off sentencing in December so Flynn might win more law enforcement goodwill as a cooperator testifying against his lobbying partner. The unraveling of Flynn’s relationship with prosecutors is a potentially explosive tactic to take to the judge.
Yet prosecutors said this week that they would no longer use Flynn as a cooperator at the trial, which begins next week, because his legal team was changing what he would say. Flynn’s attorneys say that’s not true.
Flynn argued Thursday that even though he’s no longer helping prosecutors, Sullivan should still consider that he deserves no jail time.
Flynn’s testimony at the trial “was for whatever ‘extra credit’ it might afford him with this court in lessening his sentence. Special counsel had already recommended probation to this court,” his attorneys wrote.
They are also not ready for his sentencing, his legal team said, and they will need at least until the end of August — and likely longer — to prepare, according to the filing.
Prosecutors who are handling his case before Sullivan told the judge this week that they’d like to wait until after Kian’s trial to say what they’ll do about Flynn, and what sentence they think he deserves.