The Associated Press has reported that the Attorney General Bill Barr’s DOJ has abruptly given notice that Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn deserves to spend up to half a year behind bars.
DOJ attorneys laid their reasoning out in a sentencing memo, arguing that Flynn was failing to take responsibility for his actions.
Shirking his responsibility
Following the 2016 election, Flynn met with Russia’s Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed. He then went on to serve as National Security Adviser for less than a month in 2017 before submitting his resignation in February of that year.
In January, Flynn was interviewed about the meeting by now-disgraced FBI Agent Peter Strzok, during which Flynn was alleged to have made misleading statements, an offense to which he subsequently plead guilty.
The DOJ originally recommended that Flynn was eligible to bypass prison time because of his willingness to extensively cooperate with investigators. Now, the DOJ has taken issue with Flynn’s legal team’s attacks on the Mueller investigation in recent months.
“Indeed, the government has reason to believe, through representations by the defendant’s counsel, that the defendant has retreated from his acceptance of responsibility in this case regarding his lies to the FBI,” prosecutors said when asking for a sentence of up to 6 months.
“For that reason,” the memo continues, “the government asks this Court to inquire of the defendant as to whether he maintains those apparent statements of innocence or whether he disavows them and fully accepts responsibility for his criminal conduct.”
Peter Strzok’s interview defended
In their sentencing memo, government lawyers contend that the interview between Flynn and Strzok was predicated on legitimate grounds, despite the protestations of Flynn’s legal team.
“Any effort to undermine the recently imposed sanctions, which were enacted to punish the Russian government for interfering in the 2016 election, could have been evidence of links or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia,” prosecutors wrote.
“Accordingly, determining the extent of the defendant’s actions, why the defendant took such actions, and at whose direction he took those actions, were critical to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation,” prosecutors wrote.
Flynn experienced another setback last month when U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the retired Army lieutenant general was precluded “from raising claims based on any evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment” in the fight to have his plea overturned.
For his part, President Trump has said that Flynn’s prosecution was “very unfair in my opinion.”