Russia Probe

Michael Flynn Wants To Withdraw Guilty Plea, Alleges Prosecutors Threatened To Indict His Son

The former national security advisor accuses prosecutors of misconduct—and says his former defense lawyers had conflicts of interest.

|

Two years after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, he is attempting to withdraw his plea and get his case tossed out. In a move that suggests he might be on to something, the Justice Department is backing away from a prison recommendation, saying probation would be a "reasonable sentence."

The case stemmed from the federal investigation into the alleged links between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian interests. Flynn was accused of concealing conversations he had with a Russian ambassador during the Obama-to-Trump transition, as well as trying to hide his work representing the Turkish government. As part of his plea deal, Flynn promised to cooperate with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation.

Mueller's eventual report failed to provide either the smoking gun that Trump's opponents wanted or the complete exoneration that Trump's supporters insist is in there. Now Flynn is accusing his former defense team of giving him bad advice, due to some complicated conflict of interest issues. (The Washington Post explains it here.) His new lawyers have also latched onto the problems the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General found with the warrant applications to snoop on Carter Page. Flynn's team argues that prosecutors withheld potentially exculpatory evidence (such as misconduct during the investigation itself) and that a wayward prosecutor was trying to suborn perjury and trying to get him to make false statements.

Flynn is now claiming that he never lied and that he "succumb[ed] to the threats from the government to save my family." (According to Flynn, the authorities threatened to indict his son as well.)

Meanwhile, prosecutors are backing off the idea that Flynn should do prison time, comparing his alleged crimes with those of former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Gen. David Petraeus, neither of whom went to jail for their crimes. (Berger lied about removing classified information from the National Archives. Petraeus pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information and providing access to his biographer with whom he was having an affair.) But the Justice Department still insists that Flynn is guilty and that his plea should be accepted.

A judge will have to decide what to do by the end of February, when Flynn is due to be sentenced. It's difficult to get a judge to withdraw a guilty plea. On the other hand, the new evidence gives Flynn's complaints more credibility than they would have had back in 2017.

One lesson: Prosecutors depend far too much on intimidating people into accepting plea deals rather than actually proving their case. Another: People in positions of power and influence are better able to push back against possible prosecutorial misconduct. Not everyone has the resources of Michael Flynn.

NEXT: For the Third Year in a Row, California Legislators Have Killed a Promising Housing Reform Bill

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Given how this whole impeachment ‘evidence’ thing has collapsed – have the writers who have thought that Trump needs to be removed from office been re-visiting their opinions on his presidency?

    It seems they have – quietly – because there’s been a recent influx of ‘Trump is ok’ articles, and not just from the new writers but from the long-term stable of ‘associate editors’ too.

    1. It seems they have – quietly – because there’s been a recent influx of ‘Trump is ok’ articles, and not just from the new writers but from the long-term stable of ‘associate editors’ too.

      I’m trying to decipher, “What changed?” or more critically; “If the Reason staff has suddenly cured themselves of TDS, how? Why?” The whole impeachment thing has waffled between the verge of collapsing and collapsed for 4 yrs. now, are they actually seeing some sort of light at the end of a tunnel or what?

      The conspiratorial/objective part of me is trying to figure out if the Kochs have finally gotten their financial house in order such that status quo on the border with Mexico and the current trade situation with China is finally working in their favor.

      1. I didn’t say they ‘cured themselves of TDS’. But even Shikia Dalmia posted an article a few days ago that was not a ‘Trump is the worst evah!’ article.

        Then you have articles that point out that life expectancy or unemployment are doing better – ensuring, of course, to point out that the President isn’t directly responsible (fair, IMO) – but still better than last year’s ‘OMG, TRUMP IS GOING TO DESTROY THE COUNTRY’ line.

        And there has been an influx of new writers that have written pretty fair and balanced articles from a genuine libertarian viewpoint.

        1. As to ‘what happened’ – I think, finally, they couldn’t ignore the fact that a) Trump isn’t that bad of a President when stacked against his predecessors and b) the impeachment was completely built on media frenzy with nothing substantial to back it up. To the point that now, in the Senate, even some of the Democrats are going ‘this is a joke’. Ukraine was a big nothingburger that made Biden and the Democratic party look bad.

          1. They fell for the same ‘where’s there’s smoke . . . ‘ thing the Democrats did with the Kavanaugh confirmation. And when that fell apart they, quietly, changed their stories from how bad Kavanaugh *must be* – because no one would make this stuff up – to ‘hey, this guy ain’t really so bad once you get to know him’.

        2. I didn’t say they ‘cured themselves of TDS’. But even Shikia Dalmia posted an article a few days ago that was not a ‘Trump is the worst evah!’ article.

          I didn’t imply you did, I said “if” they’d cured themselves. Recovery can be a long road.

          Otherwise, agreed on all points. I’m just incredulous that, after 4 yrs. of consistently being slapped in the face for their idiocy by both critics and reality, either it’s finally starting to dawn on them or, as you indicate in your last point, the old guard of idiots is aging out.

          Here’s hoping that Reason can spend 4 yrs. of what’s likely to be the most disruptive lame duck Presidency in recent history objectively advocating for liberty and against statism.

      2. What changed?
        a. The Trump defense started their presentation.
        b. Calling the witnesses does not include only Shiff approved ones.
        c. Cheese Justice Roberts overstepping his bounds and censoring the name of Whistle blower ERICYAY IARAMELLACAY.

        Reason would rather Oh look squirrel!

      3. What changed is Bernie topping the polls. Not even Reason can spin how electing a straight-up communist is a benefit for libertarians. That and the Kochs know they’d be first against the wall under his regime.

    2. The world hasn’t collapsed in a ball of fire yet. I think if you’ve got a shred of integrity, at some point you have to acknowledge that.

      I saw a video out of fucking DAVOS yesterday which suggested European leaders were quietly respecting Trump.

      1. At some point you would think people would just be exhausted by all of the outrage and start being more reasonable.

        1. If they’re not careful, the democrats are about to nominate a crazy vocal socialist for president of the united states, but they’re too busy blowing their own heads up over Trump to notice.

        2. I thought that a while ago. I’m bit surprised that they seem to be running out of steam *now*.

          1. Maybe if we’d had 4 yrs. worth of rage over “pass the bill to know what’s in the bill” or dronessassinations, some of the right heads would’ve ended up on pikes.

      2. One can’t honestly deny the impression of Trump’s strike on Suleimani and his overall handling of the Iran situation has made.
        It was the exact right move.
        He’s been measured and masterful in that situation

    3. Maybe it’s resigned acceptance?
      Though you still get sentences like “Mueller’s eventual report failed to provide either the smoking gun that Trump’s opponents wanted or the complete exoneration that Trump’s supporters insist is in there”
      Which is ridiculous

    4. Perhaps Reason needs to remove these writers from their offices?

  2. Reason should have Reason board member Ken Dopehat White come on and explain why he claimed anyone who questioned Flynn’s plea and the government case against him crazy and spent most of 2018 carrying water for DOJ on this. It would be quite entertaining.

    The government didn’t just withdraw its demand for jail time. It initially demanded jail time after Flynn hired a competent lawyer and started asking for evidence that had been withheld. The fact that they are now saying Flynn doesn’t deserve jail time raises some very serious ethical issues. What changed that caused the government to decide Flynn is no longer worthy of jail time? No one seems to be able to explain that.

    The fact that they are now trying to play nice is pretty strong evidence that they are guilty of something and are hoping that backing off will get Flynn to change his mind and stop asking so many questions.

    DOJ once framed a sitting Republican Senator. They now appear to have framed a former four star general and national security adviser to a President elect. Anyone who isn’t terrified by that and doesn’t want something done about it is a complete fool.

    1. It’s not a coincidence that this happened after the IG’s FISA report dropped. The last thing DoJ wants is to go to court having to explain why they prosecuted Flynn based on the fruit of the FBI’s poisonous tree.

    2. Keep crushing him John. He deserves it and you need to keep at it.

    3. The fact that they are now saying Flynn doesn’t deserve jail time raises some very serious ethical issues.

      I haven’t followed this closely, but based on this alone, it feels an awful lot like those cop cases where they dig in their heels and refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing, and then someone pipes up and says, “Oh by the way, I have a video of the event…” and then suddenly the cops are scrambling to quietly settle the case.

      1. That is exactly what it feels like.

      2. Yep.

    4. They stopped to think if they have to go to trial then Peter Strzok will have to be their star witness. His credibility will be on trial, and he likely could end up having to take the 5th on the stand, as a prosecution witness. That would be a nightmare for prosecutors. Add Lisa Page having to testify about editing the 302, and she her lying about it to the IG until confronted by the evidence and it just gets worse.

  3. “According to Flynn, the authorities threatened to indict his son as well.)”

    —-Scott Shackford

    I’m not sure that’s a claim. It may already be pretty close to an established fact.

    “Mr. Flynn felt he was facing more serious charges that could be mitigated by copping a plea to a single count and cooperating. A legal defense would require hundreds of thousands of dollars that a longtime military family doesn’t have, and his son, Michael Jr., was also under investigation. News reports Friday said the son won’t now be prosecuted.”

    —-Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2017

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-flynn-information-1512172863

    His son was under investigation.

    If the fact is that the FBI promised General Flynn not to prosecute his son if the general pleaded guilty, then how unlikely is it that the FBI threatened to prosecute his son if he didn’t plead guilty?

    To all of you out there who don’t like Trump, just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean you have to willfully pretend you’re stupid.

    1. It is not a claim. It is a fact. It is also SOP at the Department of Justice. You would think DOJ engaging in such tactics would raise some concerns.

      1. It was Comey!

      2. If Flynn was a crackhead pedophile Mexican gang member Reason might be concerned.

      3. Meanwhile, unless I’m mistaken, when Flynn plead guilty, his conversations were still being recorded by Comey and the FBI under the auspices of a bogus warrant.

        Did they or didn’t they use information obtained by way of a bogus warrant to pressure Flynn into pleading guilty?

        1. Like I mentioned above, that’s probably why they changed their recommendation; they absolutely do not want to get into discovery over this.

    2. It’s a fact that the charges were dropped against his son.

      Flynn’s explanation is a good one, but it’s not the kind of thing that’s like to have written evidence that Scott can reference.

      1. Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go to trial.

        Represent yourself if your attorney wont appeal to the jury’s sense of fair play. Judges can only stop attorneys from discussing verbotten defenses. Defendants can get away with it because whats a judge going to do, throw an incarcerated defendant in jail for contempt?

        In the case of Flynn, tell a jury that you were threatened by the state with prosecution of your son because you would not submit and support it. If I was on a jury, I would acquit no matter what the state said and the judge did to stop the claim.

        1. And then you’re still broke, and the government prosecutes you and/or your family on some other count, and all you’ve got is a public defender.

          Not even a gofundme, because Gofundme shuts down fundraisers for conservatives.

  4. Flynn should be cleared and apologized-to most publicly.

    1. Bring up the guilty parties on charges of quid pro quo.

    2. Reparations!?!

  5. It is difficult to envision a reason the current Department of Justice might go easy on Flynn?

    He should go to trial, if that’s what he wishes. If acquitted, he should be freed. If convicted, he should be incarcerated.

    His son should be charged if evidence supports the charge. The son should get no special treatment, in any direction..

    1. I love that you lost a talking point and can’t do anything about it.

      1. You figure Flynn has been vindicated? That’s the level of judgment that makes you such a disaffected culture war casualty. I support enabling him to withdraw his guilty plea (although requiring him to stand by his plea also would be reasonable). Let him have his trial, and go to prison. His son should be charged, too, if the evidence supports it. Any leniency associated with his guilty plea should be replaced by unforgiving justice.

        1. The chances of his going to prison, or even being convicted, if this goes to trial are growing exceedingly small. The main evidence was obtained under means that likely wouldn’t be allowed in trial, fruits from a poisonous tree and all.

        2. Parroting what you said before doesn’t make it any more legitimate, hicklib.

        3. Flynn has been vindicated from nearly the beginning of this mess.

  6. But the Justice Department still insists that Flynn is guilty and that his plea should be accepted.

    Or else his family will regret it.

  7. It is difficult to envision a reason the current Department of Justice might go easy on Flynn?

    You mean the same one that prosecuted him to begin with? Or does the hicklib NPC think that the FBI lying on its FISA applications wasn’t a big deal?

    He should go to trial, if that’s what he wishes. If acquitted, he should be freed. If convicted, he should be incarcerated.

    His son should be charged if evidence supports the charge. The son should get no special treatment, in any direction..

    Being a slack-jawed, inbred hicklib, I realize it’s difficult for you to understand why this would be contested. Maybe DOL can put it in a coloring book for you.

    1. Our resident NPC may be stupid but he makes up for it by being utterly depraved.

    2. If these are the rev’s current talking points, I guess that’s because not even he will try to float the narrative that the original plea was legitimate.

      1. You saw that too huh?

      2. In the old Soviet Union An old woman sends her husband to buy some meat.
        After queueing for three hours he gets to the counter and the woman says ‘No
        more meat, meat finished’. He cracks and starts yelling ‘I fought in the
        Revolution, I fought for Lenin in the First World War and for Stalin in the
        Second World War and we are still in this shit?’ One of the leather-jacketed
        brigade takes him on one side and says ‘Look old man you know you can’t talk
        like this. Just think, a few years ago you would have been shot for saying
        these things.’The old man trudges home. His wife seeing him empty-handed says
        ‘Have they run out of meat again?’ He says: ‘It’s worse than that, they’ve run
        out of bullets.’

        The progs are out of bullets and meat.

  8. The Flynn prosecution was bullshit from the beginning. Comey actually bragged about the scam under oath on TV. I have no love for Flynn and it might be that he should be prosecuted for something. War Crimes maybe? But this is pure crap. Nice to see Reason finally kinda sorta recognizing what was obvious when Obama’s DOJ instigated this shit.

  9. “Guess he might be onto something” No s***, Sherlock. This whole damn “Get Trump” thing is the same bogus B.S.

    Sadly, examples of prosecutorial overreach, withholding or falsifying evidence, overcharging, etc happen every damn day. Its just most of the time no hears about it. Used to be Reason try to expose this, and was against it.

    Now, guess it depends………………

  10. He will never get back all the money he spent defending himself from these political attacks.

    Nobody buys books anymore but that could have been a way to recoup some lost wealth from the dickhole Democrats,.

  11. I am making a good MONEY (500$ to 700$ / hr )online on my Ipad .Do not go to office.I do not claim to be others,I yoy will call yourself after doing this JOB,It’s a REAL job.Will be very lucky to refer to this …. Read more  

  12. Appears that Trump should have done a top to bottom housecleaning at the DOJ and FBI starting January 2017. Looks like the Democrats left behind a lot of sleepers and Clintonistas.

    1. All of the bureaucracy, really. What departments don’t we hear about holdover employees expressing political hatred of Trump and actively undermining his policy agenda?

  13. Reminds me of how Rudy Giuliani got Michael Milken to plead guilty. Threatened to put Mike’s brother in prison as well. It is an old, tried and true method of thug prosecutors, especially the ones who work for DOJ because fed.gov can run the cost of defending to such astronomical heights that coping a guilty plea looks like a bargain. Hang ’em all! Abolish violent government. Go voluntaryist!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.