Michael Flynn files to withdraw guilty plea after prosecutors ask for jail time

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea on Tuesday after federal prosecutors recommended he serve up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI.

Flynn’s legal team accused the federal government of breaching a plea agreement and acting in “bad faith” after the Justice Department said last week the former aide had grown uncooperative and attempted to get his charges dismissed, rather than own up to his actions. The move was a sharp rebuke to Flynn and his new attorneys, who have spent months lambasting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“The prosecution has shown abject bad faith in pure retaliation against Mr. Flynn since he retained new counsel,” Flynn’s attorneys wrote in the motion. “This can only be because with new, unconflicted counsel, Mr. Flynn refused to lie for the prosecution. In pure spite, the government retaliated.”

The motion later noted: “Justice is not a game, and there should be no room for such gamesmanship in the Department of Justice.”

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Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (L) arrives for a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, where he?s expected to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States, in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives for a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, where he?s expected to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States, in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is escorted into a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, where he?s expected to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States, in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2017.
Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn arrives for a plea hearing at U.S. District Court, where he?s expected to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States, in Washington, U.S., December 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Michael Flynn (L), former national security advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives for his plea hearing at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Flynn with one count of making a false statement to the FBI. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Michael Flynn, former national security advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives for his plea hearing at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Flynn with one count of making a false statement to the FBI. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A man protests outside as Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn appeared in court Friday after being charged with lying over his Russian contacts, as part of the FBI's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Michael Flynn (L), former national security advisor to President Donald Trump, arrives for his plea hearing at the Prettyman Federal Courthouse December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Special Counsel Robert Mueller charged Flynn with one count of making a false statement to the FBI. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, arrives at Federal Court December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn appeared in court Friday after being charged with lying over his Russian contacts, as part of the FBI's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Security stand outside after Gen. Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to US President Donald Trump, arrived at Federal Court December 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn appeared in court Friday after being charged with lying over his Russian contacts, as part of the FBI's probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI investigators about his conversations with Russian officials. At the time, he agreed to help Mueller’s investigation as it worked to determine if anyone in Trump’s orbit conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Prosecutors in turn didn’t push for Flynn to serve any prison time, calling him a “particularly valuable” font of information.

But prosecutors said Flynn grew increasingly unhelpful over the past year, writing this month that he has “sought to blame almost every other person and entity involved in his case, including his former counsel.”

“The defendant has also chosen to reverse course and challenge the elements and circumstances of his false statements to the FBI,” prosecutors wrote.

Flynn lost an effort to get his charges dismissed last month after a judge filed an exhaustive, 92-page ruling rebuffing a series of accusations that his conviction was rife with misconduct.

In its recommendations last week, the Justice Department also noted that others who have pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the Russia inquiry have been sentenced to prison time, notably former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and the lawyer Alex van der Zwaan.

“Neither defendant was a high-ranking government official, held a position of trust vis-à-vis the United States, held a security clearance, had a special understanding of the impact of providing misleading information to investigators or denied responsibility for his unlawful conduct,” prosecutors said.

Flynn is set to be sentenced on Jan. 28, although his attorneys asked for that date to be rescheduled to late February.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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