The Justice Department hinted in a court filing Thursday evening that it may seek a harsher sentence for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.
When Flynn was originally supposed to be sentenced in December 2018, the government was not pushing for prison time.
However, that sentencing hearing was postponed and Flynn has since replaced his legal team with attorneys who have taken an outright hostile approach to the Justice Department.
Flynn’s sentencing has now been rescheduled for next month. On Thursday, the Justice Department asked the judge the push back the deadline for its sentencing memo ahead of the hearing.
“There are multiple individuals and entities who must review and approve the government’s submission, including any changes from the government’s prior sentencing memorandum and its specific sentencing recommendations.”
Its explanation for why it was seeking more time to prepare the sentencing memo was revealing.
“Unfortunately, due to the holidays, the government is not able obtain the necessary review and approval from all such individuals and entities by December 30, 2019,” the filing said.
U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan agreed to push back the deadlines for the government’s and Flynn’s sentencing memos, but kept the hearing on schedule for Jan. 28.
This is the second time the Department has signaled it may be less lenient on Flynn as the judge prepares to have another go at sentencing him.
At a hearing in September, a prosecutor told the judge that the Justice Department would seek to file an amended sentencing memo when the time for sentencing came around again.
When Flynn was heading into sentencing a year ago, the Justice Department did not oppose his request for no prison time and praised his “substantial” assistance.
But, Flynn’s suggestion in his December 2018 sentencing memo that he had been a victim of entrapment irked the judge. Sullivan, at last year’s pseudo-sentencing hearing, suggested he may send Flynn to prison anyway, prompting Flynn’s lawyers to seek a delay so he could continue cooperating with the government and earn the full benefit of that cooperation.
Rather than back away from the strategy of accusing the FBI of misconduct, however, Flynn doubled down on it when he replaced his legal team last July. His new lawyers lobbed all sorts of allegations at the FBI — many of them based on far-right conspiracy theories about the Trump-Russia probe — that they claimed could warrant a full dismissal of the prosecution against Flynn.
After waiting for the DOJ inspector general to release his review of the Trump-Russia probe, the judge rejected those allegations. Flynn’s audience in the effort may not of been Sullivan, but rather a pardon-curious President Trump.
The Justice Department will file its amended memo on Jan. 6 and Flynn will file his own on Jan. 21.
Read the Justice Department’s Thursday filing below: