Run-up to Flynn sentencing tinged with unexpected drama

US Flynn sentencing postponed after hearing

Defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, a frequent defender of President Donald Trump and critic of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russiagate investigation, has argued that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn should be given leniency in his sentencing because "lying to the FBI is not a crime".

President Donald Trump's former national security chief on Tuesday received a delay in sentencing for lying over Russian contacts, after a judge threatened him with stiff jail time and said: "You sold your country out".

Still, the mere insinuation of underhanded tactics has been startling given the seemingly productive relationship between the two sides, and it was especially striking since prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller's office have praised Flynn's cooperation and recommended against prison time.

Portions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation interview notes at the center of the false statements case against Michael Flynn have been released.

Flynn was one of the first to seek a deal with Mueller, admitting one count of lying a year ago but putting off his sentencing while he cooperated in the broader Mueller probe.

Flynn has been a central focus of the Mueller probe.

Mr Mueller's office cited Flynn's "substantial" co-operation with the inquiry and career of military service.

He later softened his tone, apologizing for suggesting that Flynn had worked as a foreign agent, "undermining everything this flag over here stands for" while in the White House when that other work had actually already ended.

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Flynn's case reaching the sentencing stage could mark a turning point for the investigation: all the cases filed against non-Russians have been resolved with guilty pleas and, in one case, a jury conviction.

Mueller last week countered in a court filing that Flynn had no cause to lie in the interviews and added that a "sitting National Security Adviser, former head of an intelligence agency, retired Lieutenant General, and 33-year veteran of the armed forces knows he should not lie to federal agents".

Flynn rejected an offer from Sullivan to withdraw his guilty plea in wake of questions that his lawyers have raised regarding the circumstances of the fateful January 24, 2017 White House interview in which Flynn lied.

At the USA district court in Washington DC on Tuesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan expressed his disdain for Flynn, who had worked for the Turkish government joining the White House. Court papers show Flynn made the request at the direction of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

"I felt awful about that", Sullivan said of his statement that Flynn was working for Turkey while in the White House.

He had been paid several times to join Russian company events, most notably in December 2015 when he sat next to President Vladimir Putin at a gala for the country's state-run RT television. Flynn left the courthouse hand-in-hand with his wife, climbing into an SUV as protesters heckled and supporters chanted "USA!"

The agents said Flynn lied about those contacts, in which he allegedly promised to remove sanctions on Russian Federation even while the Obama government was in the process of strengthening them over Moscow's interference in the 2016 election. This goes directly against theories presented by those on the right that the Federal Bureau of Investigation trapped Flynn into telling lies or that he didn't actually lie in the first place.

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