January 7, 2020, 9:55 AM PST
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn deserves up to six months behind bars, the Justice Department said Tuesday, reversing its earlier position that he was entitled to avoid prison time because of his extensive cooperation with prosecutors.
The government’s sentencing memo is a sharp rebuke to Flynn’s new legal team, which for months has attacked special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and accused prosecutors of withholding information that the lawyers said was favorable to their client. A judge rejected those arguments last month.
Any prison sentence for Flynn would continue a precipitous fall for the former Army lieutenant general, who after a long career in Iraq and Afghanistan was entrusted with shaping the Trump administration’s national security policy but became entangled early on in the FBI’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The sentencing recommendation bookends Flynn’s path from valued, high-level government cooperator — he is the only former White House aide charged in Mueller’s investigation — to a defendant who prosecutors say no longer deserves any credit for helping the government.
“Indeed, the government has reason to believe, through representations by the defendant’s counsel, that the defendant has retreated from his acceptance of responsibility in this case regarding his lies to the FBI,” prosecutors wrote in seeking a sentence of up to six months.
“For that reason,” they added, “the government asks this Court to inquire of the defendant as to whether he maintains those apparent statements of innocence or whether he disavows them and fully accepts responsibility for his criminal conduct.”