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Justice Dept. abruptly reverses course and recommends jail for Trump’s Mike Flynn

Justice Dept. abruptly reverses course and recommends jail for Trump’s Mike Flynn

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Former General Michael Flynn, one of the first members of the Trump administration to be brought down by the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, has had his fortunes reversed multiple times since he was initially appointed National Security Advisor by Donald Trump at the very beginning of his term.

Now Flynn has seen his fate reversed yet again with the announcement that federal prosecutors in the Justice Department were changing their recommendation of probation for Flynn’s guilty plea to one count of giving false testimony to the FBI when he was being questioned and now were advocating that Flynn serve up to six months in prison.

The first fateful turn in Flynn’s life came when he was fired by a Trump administration that immediately found itself enmeshed in an FBI investigation into its suspicious ties with Moscow — ties that Flynn was intimately involved with.

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His tenure as the shortest-serving National Security Advisor in American history officially came to an end just 24 days after assuming the office, ostensibly because he lied to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence about the nature and content of his communications with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak during the transition period before Trump’s inauguration.

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Flynn’s next turn came after he had been additionally accused of working as an undeclared foreign lobbyist for both Russsian and Turkish interests and was facing serious legal jeopardy.

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At that point, he made the decision to cooperate with the special counsel Robert Mueller — who by then had been appointed to take over the FBI investigation into the administration — in exchange for a plea bargain that would exchange leniency in the single count of lying to the FBI for his continued cooperation with Muller’s team of investigators.

Whatever information that Flynn then provided to the Special counsel’s investigation, it was sufficient to lead to the offer of a probation recommendation rather than prison time for the disgraced former general.

Yet Flynn’s own subsequent actions led to yet another turn of events.

The fired National Security Advisor began attacking the FBI, saying that he had been entrapped and that there had been prosecutorial misconduct in the investigation into his case. He switched legal representation and echoed Trump’s accusations of a “deep state” conspiracy to bring down the administration in what many saw as a transparent attempt to seek a pardon from the president.

The judge in Flynn’s case was so skeptical of Flynn’s assertions that he offered to postpone Flynn’s sentencing until after his cooperation with Prosecutors had been completed in order to give him more time to prove that his cooperation warranted leniency for his crimes.

“Arguably, you sold your country out,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan told Flynn at the time.

While Flynn never backed down from his accusations of entrapment and FBI misbehavior, the judge categorically rejected his claims in December.

The surprising reversal of the Justice Department’s previous call for leniency in his sentencing comes despite the Department’s head, Attorney General William Barr’s previous record of protecting the administration at all legal junctures.

“It is within the government’s sole discretion to determine whether the defendant has ‘substantially assisted’ the government,” prosecutor Brandon Van Grack said in his 33-page court filing. “In light of the complete record, including actions subsequent to December 18, 2018, that negate the benefits of much of the defendant’s earlier cooperation, the government no longer deems the defendant’s assistance ‘substantial.’ ”

The new sentencing recommendations come just a few weeks before Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on January 28th.

Whether the president will intervene and offer his former advisor pardon remains to be seen, but with Flynn once again toeing Trump’s line and endorsing his conspiratorial views of the “deep state,” it’s now all that separates Flynn from the hoosgow.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Original reporting by Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. 

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