19 Dec 2018
US President Trump's ex-security chief sold country out, says Judge
A federal judge abruptly postponed the sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn, US President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, yesterday after a stunning hearing in which the judge accused Flynn of selling out his country.
The delay allows Flynn to continue cooperating with the special counsel's Russia probe and get credit for it in his punishment.
Read the details here.
Flynn pleaded guilty last year for lying about Russian contacts
Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts, just days after Trump was inaugurated.
"Arguably you sold your country out," US District Judge Emmet Sullivan told Flynn in a tongue-lashing that raised the prospect he could send the retired Army lieutenant general to prison, even though prosecutors have recommended against prison time, citing his cooperation in Russia probe.
'I can't hide my disgust, my disdain,' Judge to Flynn
Sullivan told Flynn "I can't hide my disgust, my disdain" at the crime.
After a prosecutor raised the prospect of Flynn's continued cooperation with other investigations in future, Sullivan warned Flynn that he might not get the full credit for his assistance to the government if he were sentenced as was scheduled.
Typically, judges like to sentence cooperating defendants after their cooperation is done.
Flynn's lawyer requested postponement to allow Flynn to keep cooperating
The reason why judges do that is so that they can fully evaluate the help the defendants gave to the government.
Sullivan gave Flynn a chance to talk it over with his lawyers, and the court went into a brief recess.
When they returned, Flynn lawyer Rob Kelner defended Flynn's cooperation but requested a postponement to allow for him to keep cooperating.
Flynn served as national security adviser for only few weeks
Flynn, who served as national security adviser for only a few weeks, was to be the first White House official sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump campaign.
The hearing took place amid escalating legal peril for Trump, who was implicated by federal prosecutors in New York this month in hush-money payments to cover up extramarital affairs.
There was no Russian collusion in our political campaign: Trump
Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2018
Would take into account military career, cooperation with government: Judge
At the hearing, Sullivan told Flynn that he would take into account his extensive cooperation with the government, which includes 19 meetings with investigators as well as a 33-year long military career that included service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But he also said he was forced to weigh other factors, too, including Flynn's decision as national security adviser to lie to the FBI.
Ready to proceed with sentencing: Flynn to the judge
Earlier in the hearing, Sullivan asked Flynn a series of questions to make sure he wanted to move forward with his sentencing in light of a memo his attorneys submitted last week.
The submitted memo took aim at the FBI's conduct during agents' January 2017 interview of Flynn.
Flynn, 60, said that he was ready to proceed with sentencing, memo notwithstanding.
Trump showed his interest in the case, said 'good luck'
Nearly half a dozen of former aides and advisers including Flynn have pleaded guilty or agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. United States President Donald Trump signaled his intense interest in the case by tweeting "good luck" to Flynn, hours before the sentencing hearing.