The sentencing of President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was delayed after a judge lashed out at the nature of his crimes and appeared to be ready to give him jail time.
Flynn pleaded guilty last year to lying to investigators, and he also failed to disclose lobbying work for the Turkish government. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team recommended a light sentence, including no incarceration, given Flynn’s cooperation with their Russia investigation.
But in a lengthy and unusual hearing, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told Flynn in court that he couldn’t hide “my disgust, my disdain” for his actions, according to CNN. “Arguably you sold your country out,” the judge said.
After a brief recess, the judge pulled back on some of his comments, and clarified that he was not suggesting that Flynn committed treason after asking prosecutors about it.
Instead, he asked Flynn’s attorneys if they wanted the sentencing to be delayed, and to give their client time to cooperate further with Mueller’s team. They agreed.
A new sentencing date has not been set, but a status report is due by March 13.
In questioning by FBI investigators in January, 2017, Flynn had denied that in a late December, 2016, conversation with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, he had asked for a muted response to the Obama administration’s imposition of sanctions for interference in the U.S. presidential election. In fact, Flynn had raised that issue.
Last month, Mueller’s team recommended that Flynn get a lesser sentence.
“Given the defendant’s substantial assistance and other considerations set forth below, a sentence at the low end of the guideline range — including a sentence that does not impose a term of incarceration — is appropriate and warranted,” the federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
President Trump addressed the sentencing in a Tuesday tweet, wishing Flynn “good luck.”
“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!” Trump wrote.
Just three weeks into his tenure, Flynn resigned his post, after reports that he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his comments to the Russian ambassador. Then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at the time that the president fired Flynn.
In their sentencing memo, Flynn’s attorneys criticized the manner in which Flynn was interviewed by FBI agents about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. They noted that Flynn had no lawyer present and the interview did not involve the White House counsel’s office.
That has fueled claims from the right that Flynn was unfairly targeted, On Fox News on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Flynn was “certainly ambushed” by the FBI
The judge, however, seemed upset by the attorneys’ brief, saying it raised questions of whether Flynn was backtracking on his plea agreement with Mueller., according to CNN. He sought assurances from Flynn that he accepted responsibility for his crimes.
His attorneys also told the judge that their client was not entrapped by the FBI, and Flynn said that he was “aware” that lying to investigators was a crime.