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Michael Flynn sentencing delayed

Why Mueller cares about Michael Flynn (2018)
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What we covered here

  • Sentencing delayed: President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn will not be sentenced today. His hearing was postponed until 2019.
  • What happens next? Both sides now have until March 13 to file a status report with the court.
  • The charge: Flynn pleaded guilty to one charge last year as a result of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
22 Posts

Our live coverage of Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing has ended. Scroll through the posts below to see how it unfolded or read more about it at CNN Politics.

Protesters chant "lock him up" as Michael Flynn walks out of court

President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn leaves federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018.

People outside the federal courthouse were heard chanting “lock him up” and “USA” as Michael Flynn left the building following the delay of his sentencing.

Flynn left the courthouse without speaking to reporters.

Judge Emmet Sullivan postponed Flynn’s sentencing until 2019. Both sides now have until March 13 to file a status report with the court.

Watch it here:

Court adjourns in Flynn sentencing hearing

Judge Emmet Sullivan adjourned Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing.

Sullivan’s last words to the court were “Happy holidays.”

When the hearing concluded with no final resolution on Flynn’s sentence, members of his family exited the court with stoic looks and slowly filed out. Some had what looked like a thousand-yard stare. It was an emotional hearing.

Judge delays Flynn sentencing

Michael Flynn will not be sentenced today. 

Judge Emmet Sullivan says it is fine to delay Flynn’s sentencing and proceed by having both sides update the judge on his case in March.

Flynn's attorney asks judge to delay sentencing

Michael Flynn’s attorney has asked Judge Emmet Sullivan to delay the sentencing.

“We are prepared to take your honor up on his suggestion of delaying sentencing, so he can (sic) out the last modicum of cooperation” in Virginia, the attorney said.

Prosecutors said they had no problems delaying the sentencing.

Judge walks back treason questions

Judge Emmet Sullivan started the second part of the proceedings by walking back some of his harshest comments. 

“I made a statement about Mr. Flynn acting as a foreign agent in the White House,” he said. Sullivan added that he realized that was incorrect.

Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack said the foreign lobbying Flynn did ended before the Trump administration began.

Sullivan also walked back his treason questions. “I’m not suggesting” Flynn committed treason, Sullivan now said.

“I was just trying to determine the benefit and the generosity of the government,” he said. “Don’t read too much into the questions I ask.”

Van Grack said Mueller’s team has “no concern” or no reason to think Flynn committed treason.

Court is back in session

The sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn has commenced after a short recess.

Judge Emmet Sullivan immediately informed the court he has more questions.

Judge in Flynn case was appointed by Clinton to federal bench

Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is presiding over Michael Flynn’s sentencing, was appointed to the federal bench by former President Bill Clinton in 1994.

In 1984, President Reagan appointed him to the DC Superior Court, and in 1991 President George H.W. Bush appointed Sullivan to the DC Court of Appeals.

The mood inside the courtroom shifted during judge's treason questions

More than a dozen friends and family members were in the courtroom for Michael Flynn’s sentencing.

Before the hearing, their mood was somewhat jovial. People were smiling and chatting. When Flynn walked into the courtroom, he greeted his family members with a smile, saying, “You made it!”

But the mood visibly shifted as the hearing progressed and things got much more serious, specifically when Judge Emmet Sullivan admonished Flynn for lying, saying he “arguably sold your country out” and brought up questions of treason.

Two of Flynn’s sisters sat with their fingers pressed upon their lips. Another member of the Flynn party tensely leaned forward to hear the answers when the judge asked prosecutors about whether Flynn’s actions were treasonous.

Court is now in brief recess

Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan called a recess until 12:30 p.m. ET.

Before exiting the courtroom, Sullivan reminded Michael Flynn he can speak to his lawyers in a private conference room in the courtroom.

Judge asks if Flynn's conduct is "treasonous activity"

Judge Emmet Sullivan asked in court today if Michael Flynn’s conduct “rises to the level of treasonous activity?”

Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, speaking for the special counsel’s office, said prosecutors did not consider charging Flynn with treason.

Then Sullivan asked again: “Could he have been charged with treason?”

Van Grack wouldn’t go there.

Judge blasts Flynn: "Arguably you sold your country out"

Judge Sullivan harshly admonished Michael Flynn for acting as unregistered agent while serving as the national security adviser, leaving open the possibility of jail time for Flynn.

“All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the National Security Adviser to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out.”

Sullivan says he could impose a sentence of incarceration.

“I am not hiding my disgust, my disdain for your criminal offense,” Sullivan said, straining his voice and taking a brief pause. “Yes, your honor,” Flynn said, though he was not asked a question.

Judge to Flynn: "Not only did you lie to the FBI, you lied" to senior Trump officials

Michael Flynn returned to the podium with his lawyers after Judge Emmet Sullivan wanted to ask him a few more questions.

“I believe I understand that” there could be more cooperation needed from Flynn, Flynn said to the judge. He confirmed he’s already done 19 interviews with investigators.

Sullivan noted that this circumstance today is rare — hearings like this during continuing cooperation are often sealed, or are put on pause until the cooperation is complete.

Having a sentencing today “is your prerogative, and only yours,” Sullivan said. “If you want to postpone this …” Sullivan suggested again.

“I want to be frank with you, this crime is very serious,” Sullivan said.

If Sullivan sentences Flynn today, he can only take into consideration the cooperation up to this point. A sentence at a later date might be different if Flynn’s cooperation continued, Sullivan said.

“The aggravating circumstances are serious. Not only did you lie to the FBI, you lied to senior officials in the incoming administration,” Sullivan said.

Former Mueller-team prosecutor: It "remains a possibility" that Flynn will continue to cooperate

Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack says “it remains a possibility that General Flynn is continuing to cooperate with the government.”

Judge Sullivan had asked Van Grack if Flynn was still cooperating, and Van Grack took several seconds to give that response.

Typically, defendants in this sort of circumstance don’t proceed to sentencing until their cooperation is complete, because judges want to be able to fully evaluate how they helped before they are.

But Mueller’s team and the Justice Department clearly have left the door open for Flynn to continuing to help.

Van Grack is explaining that Flynn by this point has given “substantial assistance.” 

“The defendant had provided the vast majority of cooperation that could be considered,” the former Mueller-team prosecutor tells the judge. 

For the first time: The special counsel also acknowledged Flynn’s role in the indictment of two Flynn associates related to their lobbying on behalf of Turkey. Flynn gave “substantial assistance” to the Eastern District of Virginia US Attorney’s Office in the Kian indictment unsealed yesterday.

If he had not cooperated and admitted to lying about the Turkish lobbying, Flynn could have been charged in that Virginia federal criminal case, Van Grack said.

Judge says Flynn's offense is "very serious" given his position

Judge Emmet Sullivan is now walking through what he will take into account to determine sentencing.

“The process is highly individualized,” Sullivan said. He will take into consideration the seriousness of the offense.

“A high ranking official of the government” making false statements in the White House is a “very serious offense,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also noted that Michael Flynn was still serving on the Trump campaign at the time of the incidents that led to his lie about his lobbying work for the Turkish government.

The judge acknowledged, though, that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has filed a request for leniency on Flynn’s sentence. He will be considering the significance and usefulness of Flynn’s assistance to the Justice Department.

Judge accepts Michael Flynn's guilty plea

Judge Emmet Sullivan has now formally accepted Michael Flynn’s guilty plea, after spending several minutes revisiting the unusual circumstance of Flynn’s interview and his intentions today.

He gave Flynn several outs to rethink his plea, and Flynn asserted several times he is ready to go forward.

Here’s how that exchange went:

“I would like to proceed, your honor,” Flynn said.
Sullivan asked, “Because you’re guilty of this offense?”
“Yes, your honor,” Flynn said, nodding.
Sullivan then accepted Flynn’s plea.

Flynn stands firm on guilty plea under judge's questioning

“I do not” seek to withdraw the plea, Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn just told the judge overing seeing his sentencing for lying to the FBI.

Flynn said he is satisfied by his attorney representation, does not want extra time to speak with them, and does not want to speak with another, different attorney before this proceeds.

Sullivan asks Flynn if he would like to postpone the sentencing, and Flynn says no.

What this means: He is standing firm on his decision to plead guilty to this crime.

Flynn: "I was aware" that lying to FBI investigators was a crime

Judge Emmet Sullivan is reviewing Michael Flynn’s acknowledgments that he was wrong in his actions and takes responsibility, and also describes how Flynn made note of the circumstances of the interview in the White House.

Sullivan is walking through what both sides wrote in their pre-sentencing court papers and the FBI memos memorializing Flynn’s interview with the FBI. Sullivan reminds the courtroom Flynn says he was “unguarded [at his interview] because he did not receive a warning and was not represented by counsel.”

“Mr. Flynn’s briefing concerned the court,” Sullivan said, and called into question the circumstances of his guilty plea.

And now, a procedural moment in most sentencings becomes one of more high tension.

Sullivan will ask him a series of questions to make sure he is ready to plead guilty. Sullivan reminds him he will afford him an opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea if he wants to. Flynn responds he has no concerns about entering his guilty plea.

Then he added: “I was aware” that lying to FBI investigators was a crime when he was interviewed in Jan. 24, 2017, interview, Flynn tells the judge.

The Flynn sentencing hearing has begun

Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing has now started.

Judge Emmet Sullivan called the case “very unique.” Sullivan said he does not want to unintentionally say something during this hearing that should not be on the public record.

He also notes that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team filed another filing under seal, a document produced to Flynn previously, earlier this morning. He did not say if that will be made public.

Earlier, Trump wished Flynn "good luck" at his sentencing

President Trump tweeted well wishes for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn ahead of this morning’s sentencing.

Trump added that it “will be interesting to see what he has to say.”

Read his tweet:

What happened Monday night: Trump alleged the FBI determined that day that Flynn hadn’t lied. Yet a memo from January 24, 2017, that was released Monday night does not say the FBI agents made any determinations at that time. The memo only outlines what Flynn said in a straightforward manner.

The subsequent criminal complaint, filed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in December 2017, outlined how Flynn’s retelling of the conversations was wrong.

Michael Flynn is in the courtroom

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn is in the courtroom for the start of his sentencing hearing.

Flynn has cooperated extensively with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and at least one other Justice Department probe. That cooperation led other “related firsthand witnesses to be forthcoming with (Mueller) and cooperate,” prosecutors said. They recommended Flynn receive no jail time.

Michael Flynn will be sentenced today. Here's what to expect.

Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is scheduled to be sentenced today for lying to the FBI.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has recommended that Flynn receive no jail time, given that he has accepted responsibility for his actions and cooperated with their investigations.

Flynn has also asked a federal judge to spare him from prison time. Instead, he is asking the judge for probation of less than a year and has offered to do 200 hours of community service.

Some background: Flynn pleaded guilty December 2017 to lying to the FBI about the substance of his calls with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak while he worked on the Trump presidential transition.

Flynn initially denied — but eventually admitted — that they had discussed sanctions and a United Nations Security Council resolution during the presidential transition.

The saga — including the fact that he had lied to high-ranking administration officials about his contact with Kislyak — led to his early exit from the White House.

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