In a sentencing memo published on Tuesday, Department of Justice prosecutors recommended that President Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn receive up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI in January 2017 about conversations he had with the former Russian ambassador. Prosecutors are reversing a recommendation from December 2018 suggesting that the general receive little or no jail time, citing his “apparent failure to accept responsibility.” If Federal District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan accepts the recommendation at Flynn’s sentencing on January 28, he will become the fourth former Trump adviser to wear prison blues, joining colleagues Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Cohen. (They may soon be joined by Roger Stone, who was convicted of seven counts, including witness tampering and lying to Congress, and is to be sentenced on February 6.)
“The defendant is now scheduled to be sentenced almost exactly three years from the date of his primary criminal conduct — lying to the FBI — and the intervening years have included periods where the defendant has sought to assist and aid the government, and periods where the defendant has sought to thwart the efforts of the government to hold other individuals, principally Bijan Rafiekian, accountable for criminal wrongdoing,” the sentencing memo states. Rafiekian is an Iranian-American businessman, who was convicted, then acquitted, of foreign-agent felony charges related to the pair’s work for Turkish interests toward the end of the 2016 campaign.
The memo continues: “Given the serious nature of the defendant’s offense, his apparent failure to accept responsibility, his failure to complete his cooperation in — and his affirmative efforts to undermine — the prosecution of Bijan Rafiekian, and the need to promote respect for the law and adequately deter such criminal conduct, the government recommends that the court sentence the defendant within the applicable Guidelines range of 0 to 6 months of incarceration.”
Flynn, 61, was fired in February 2017, just 23 days into his tenure as national security adviser, when he admitted that he had given “incomplete information” to Vice-President Mike Pence about his phone calls during the transition with Sergey Kislyak, in which he discussed sanctions with the former Russian ambassador. By the end of 2017, Flynn had admitted to lying to the FBI about the conversations, and had agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation; he even asked to delay sentencing to prove his worth to the inquiry and convince prosecutors he did not deserve jail time. However, his decision to change his story after agreeing to testify against Rafiekian in July — was part of a larger rejection of the prosecutors who first recommended he stay out of prison, including a claim that he was entrapped by the FBI. Last month, Judge Sullivan rejected his new legal team’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct.
It’s been quite the turnaround for Flynn since the last presidential election, when he made an energetic speech at the Republican National Convention in July 2016, where he said that the Democratic candidate would be a “reckless president who believes she is above the law.” When the crowd began to chant “lock her up,” he emphatically joined in.