A federal judge has unloaded on Donald Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn during a court hearing on Tuesday over an agreement he and his lawyers made seeking no jail time in exchange for his cooperation — while leaving the door open for his incarceration.
Judge Emmett Sullivan, who has presided over Flynn’s sentencing for lying to the FBI about his secret work for the Turkish government before joining the Trump administration, suggested the retired three-star general can still face a harsh sentence despite his military service.
The judge said Flynn’s secretive work for a foreign government “arguably” undermined “everything this flag over here stands for” while motioning towards a US flag in the Washington courtroom.
“I am going to be frank with you, this crime is very serious,” Judge Sullivan said to Flynn. “I can’t hide my disgust, my disdain, at this criminal offense.”
Flynn was one of the several dozen Trump associates caught up in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, along with other allies of the president ensnared on tax crimes and other various bank and money laundering scams, from former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Rick Gates, the president’s former campaign chairman.
He has since attempted to claim that he was tricked into having a conversation with FBI investigators which he described as a “chat” rather than an interrogation — a point the judge skewered as a falsity while rebuking the former general.
According to The Guardian, which covered the court hearing, the judge appeared to want to make clear that Flynn could certainly still face jail time for his crimes, and that he was not immediately planning to approve the agreement his lawyers had apparently arranged for him.
Flynn agreed to postpone the sentencing, though Judge Sullivan once again echoed that jail time could very much still be in his future.
“I didn’t say ‘wink, wink, nod, nod’,” the judge said. “I’m not promising anything.”
Flynn, who was recently pardoned by the president, has stirred controversy in recent days over his calls for Mr Trump to overturn his electoral defeat with the help of the US military.
“There is no way in the world we are going to be able to move forward as a nation,” Flynn said. “[The president] could immediately, on his order, seize every single one of these machines.”
“Within the swing states,” he added, “if he wanted to, he could take military capabilities, and he could place those in states and basically rerun an election in each of those states.”