A federal judge who will sentence Michael Flynn issued a blanket rebuke of conspiracy theories on Monday about the former Trump national security adviser that have festered over the last two years.
The FBI didn’t entrap Flynn when he lied to them in the early days of the Trump administration, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the US District Court in DC said in a 92-page opinion.
“The Court summarily disposes of Mr. Flynn’s arguments that the FBI conducted an ambush interview for the purpose of trapping him into making false statements and that the government pressured him to enter a guilty plea. The record proves otherwise,” Sullivan wrote on Monday.
“Regardless of Mr. Flynn’s new theories, he pled guilty twice to the crime, and he fails to demonstrate that the disclosure of the requested information would have impacted his decision to plead guilty,” Sullivan added.
Flynn will now be sentenced on January 28.
Two years ago, Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about his interactions during the Trump transition with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and in a Justice Department disclosure regarding his lobbying firm’s work for Turkey in 2016. He agreed to cooperate in the Mueller investigation, and helped Mueller piece together several instances where President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct the investigation.
Flynn faced Sullivan last December, when he was set to be sentenced for a single lying charge. But the judge made sure Flynn, under oath, still accepted his guilt, then expressed his outrage that Flynn had lied in the White House. Flynn that day asked to postpone his sentencing so he could help prosecutors even more, potentially appeasing Sullivan.
But the extra time may not have helped. Flynn hired new attorneys this year, led by Texas-based counsel Sidney Powell, who has on Twitter lobbied for a presidential pardon for Flynn.
Prosecutors dropped Flynn from the witness list at the trial of his ex-lobbying partner, Bijan Kian, out of fear for what he would say on the stand about his actions because his attorneys implied his story had changed. (A judge acquitted Kian after his trial, because the prosecutors presented insufficient evidence.)
Prosecutors previously recommended that Flynn serve no jail time because of his help during the Mueller probe, but it is still unknown if they will stand by that recommendation.
Sullivan noted in his opinion Monday that Flynn knowingly admitted to making the false statements in an interview on January 27, 2016, in the early days of the Russia investigation. He also “knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered into the Plea Agreement,” Sullivan noted.
Sullivan is known for his fairness to defendants, and especially for holding federal prosecutors to strict standards to turn relevant exculpatory documents over to defense teams. But his opinion Monday blasts Flynn and his new legal team for their approach.
The judge refused to give Flynn access to more than 50 additional documents from prosecutors, and declined to dismiss his case or hold prosecutors in contempt of court, contrary to what Flynn requested.
“The government points out – and Mr. Flynn does not dispute – that he made false statements to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador, and those same false statements were repeated to the Vice President of the United States, the White House Chief of Staff, the White House Press Secretary, and The Washington Post. As noted by the government, those high-ranking government officials then repeated Mr. Flynn’s false statements on national television,” Sullivan noted on Monday.
Some of Flynn’s recent requests asked for documents prosecutors don’t have, that Flynn already has, or that he’s not entitled to, such as memos of other witness’ statements to the FBI during the Russia investigation and text messages between FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. Flynn’s legal team knew about the Strzok-Page texts, which criticized Trump while working on the Russia investigation, before he pleaded guilty.
The judge also won’t allow him access to classified information that Flynn’s legal team claimed existed. “By any conceivable measure, Mr. Flynn’s requested information is neither helpful nor relevant to the defense,” Sullivan wrote on Monday. “Mr. Flynn’s requests for additional information are based on speculation and theoretical relevance.”