In a federal district court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, retired three-star general Michael Flynn stood in front of Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and prepared to face the music for his crimes.
The New York Times reports that Judge Sullivan said he was not hiding his “disgust” for what Flynn had done, and he called Flynn’s crimes “a very serious offense.”
The 59-year-old Flynn spent just 24 days in 2017 serving as Donald Trump’s first national security adviser. He was fired by Trump for lying to vice president Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. It is those same lies that prosecutors say impeded the Federal Bureau of Investigation from looking into links between the Trump campaign and Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election and tip the scales in Trump’s favor.
As the Times notes, Flynn was interviewed by the FBI just four days after Trump was inaugurated. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to charges that he lied to the FBI about conversations he had with Kislyak in December 2016 during the presidential transition.
Flynn, who was once the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is the highest-ranking Trump aide to face charges and be sentenced in relation to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to the Times.
Judge Sullivan did not mince words in court Tuesday and made it clear he considers what Flynn did to be “extraordinarily serious and a betrayal of the trust placed in him as a high-ranking White House official,” reported the Times, and at one point even asked prosecutors if what Flynn had done could be considered treason.
Lucky for Flynn, Brandon L. Van Grack—the prosecutor in the case—said no.
Judge Sullivan also asked Flynn and his attorneys about their assertion that FBI agents may have tricked Flynn by not telling him lying to federal agents would be considered a federal crime—something that Trump, as well as White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have also suggested.
In this instance, Flynn manned up and said he knew lying to the FBI was a crime.
Flynn has met with federal prosecutors 19 times in the past year, and because of his continued cooperation and “substantial help” in multiple criminal investigations, prosecutors had recommended a lenient sentence for him. He currently faces up to six months in prison.
While Flynn’s lawyers say his cooperation with the government is “very largely complete,” they said Flynn wanted to make sure he got full credit for further assistance before being sentenced.
Though Judge Sullivan offered to allow him to postpone his sentencing until his cooperation was complete, he warned Flynn: “I cannot assure that if you proceed today you will not receive a sentence of incarceration.”
In other words, just because you are snitching doesn’t mean you won’t still go to prison.
Like a man willing to take his chances, Flynn took Sullivan up on the offer.
When the Obama administration—which was on its way out at the time—imposed sanctions against Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, Flynn admits that he requested Russia not escalate tensions between the two countries. He was told by Kislyak that Russia would not retaliate.
When asked directly about this by the FBI, Flynn claimed not to remember asking Kislyak to have Russia hold back. He also claimed not to know that the Obama administration had expelled dozens of Russian diplomats and seized two Russian-owned estates, saying that at the time he was on vacation in the Dominican Republic, without access to television or to his government-issued BlackBerry phone.
Flynn has also admitted to lying about discussions he had with Kislyak and officials from other countries about an impending vote on a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and about his lobbying work for Turkey in documents he filed with the Justice Department after he was forced out as national security adviser amid controversy over his conversations with Kislyak.
And so it is that a man who spent a great portion of his life serving his country and being an honorable man has had his entire life destroyed by being a part of the Trump dishonesty machine.
What’s that Bible scripture that talks about how the people you hang around can bring you down?
Ah, yes. 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Guess Flynn learned that the hard way.