WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, on Tuesday said in a court filing that he would seek to withdraw his guilty plea in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Flynn pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI about interactions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in the weeks before Trump took office, but has since argued that prosecutors violated his rights and duped him into a plea agreement.
The development came one week after federal prosecutors recommended that Flynn serve up to six months in prison, reversing their earlier recommendation of probation after his attacks against the FBI and Justice Department.
Flynn was one of several former Trump aides to plead guilty or be convicted at trial in Mueller’s investigation that detailed Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy, as well as numerous contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
A federal judge in December rejected a bid by Flynn to get the criminal charge of lying to the FBI dropped, brushing aside his claims of misconduct by prosecutors and the FBI.
The judge, Emmet Sullivan, ordered Flynn to appear for sentencing on Jan. 28, concluding that the retired Army lieutenant general had failed to prove a “single” violation by the prosecution or FBI officials for withholding evidence that could exonerate him.
Flynn buys time as he seeks to withdraw his guilty plea
Tuesday’s filing by Flynn‘s lawyers asked Sullivan to postpone the Jan. 28 sentencing date.
At a December 2018 court hearing, Sullivan fiercely criticized Flynn and appeared poised to sentence him to prison. But Sullivan instead gave Flynn the option of delaying the sentencing to allow him to fully cooperate with pending investigations.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; editing by Shri Navaratnam and Leslie Adler)