President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn asked a court to let him withdraw his guilty plea on charges of lying to the FBI just two weeks before he was set to be sentenced.
Flynn’s lawyers made the request in a motion filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday night, a week after federal prosecutors recommended that he be sentenced to up to six months in prison. They accused the Justice Department of violating its plea agreement with Flynn.
“The prosecution seeks to rewrite history and send Mr. Flynn to prison,” the filing reads.
“Mr. Flynn will not plead guilty. Furthermore, he will not accede to the government’s demand that he ‘disavow’ any statements made in his filings since he obtained new, unconflicted counsel,” his lawyers wrote. “Michael T. Flynn is innocent. Mr. Flynn has cooperated with the government in good faith for two years. He gave the prosecution his full cooperation.”
Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump transition period.
His lawyers asked the court to delay his sentencing, which is set for Jan. 28, for at least a month. Prosecutors said in a brief filing that they would not oppose that request.
Flynn reached a plea agreement with the special counsel’s office two years ago and promised his cooperation with its investigation into Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 election.
In December 2018, prosecutors initially recommended leniency for Flynn, citing his cooperation and his military record.
But the relationship between Flynn and the government soured last year. Over the summer, he fired his legal team from the prestigious law firm Covington & Burling and hired Sidney Powell, a combative right-wing firebrand, to represent him.
Last month, Judge Emmet Sullivan dismissed Powell’s accusations that the prosecutors and the FBI had acted improperly by engaging in a political scheme against Flynn aimed at coercing him into pleading guilty.
The prosecution then revoked its recommendation for leniency two weeks ago, saying that the former three-star Army general had refused to cooperate in recent months.
“The sentence should adequately deter the defendant from violating the law, and to promote respect for the law,” the Justice Department wrote in a sentencing memo earlier this month. “It is clear that the defendant has not learned his lesson. He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions.”