The Flynn Sentencing: What Comes Next?

As Zoe Tillman describes, the Mike Flynn sentencing hearing today was even more unpredictable than I imagined (and I anticipated it would bring some surprises). Judge Emmet Sullivan (after apparently putting Flynn under oath so these questions, too, could be charged for perjury) asked him several times whether — given the sentencing memorandum he submitted suggesting extenuating circumstances for his lies to the FBI (but not to DOJ’s FARA team) — he believed he had lied, whether he knew that was a crime, whether he wanted to plead guilty.

Throughout the proceedings, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan repeatedly asked Flynn if he wanted to go ahead with sentencing, given his lawyers’ comments questioning the conduct of the FBI officials and agents who handled his questioning in January 2017, and the fact that Flynn might not be finished cooperating.

Having established that — and offered Flynn several opportunities to delay sentencing, he laid into him, even going so far as to ask prosecutor Brandon Van Grack if Mueller had considered charing Flynn with treason.

“Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for,” Sullivan said, gesturing to an American flag displayed behind his chair. “Arguably you sold your country out.”

Sullivan continued: “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense.”

Flynn at that point took up the judge’s offer of additional time to consult with his lawyers. Before the judge took a break, however, he asked special counsel prosecutor Brandon Van Grack if Flynn could have been charged with treason for his conversations with now-former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016, after then-president Barack Obama had entered sanctions against Russia for interfering in the election.

That’s when Flynn asked Sullivan for a break. When he and his lawyers returned, they took Sullivan up on his offer for a delay, and suggested a status hearing in March.

But it’s not entirely clear how that will help — aside from giving Sullivan time to set aside the visceral disgust he showed for Flynn today.

Here’s are some possible scenarios:

Flynn Finds Something Else to Cooperate On

This is the ostensible reason to delay the sentencing, so that Flynn can cooperate some more, in an attempt to convince Sullivan he should avoid prison time.

When Sullivan asked Van Grack whether Flynn was done cooperating, and the prosecutor replied that it remained a possibility. That stops short of even promising that Flynn will be called to testify in the trial against his former partner, Bijan Kian. As I noted yesterday, the indictment seemed to be built to avoid that, and as an unindicted co-conspirator there may be problems if Flynn does testify, to say nothing of his limited credibility as a sworn liar. Moreover, Flynn’s substantial cooperation in getting prosecutors to this point was already baked into today’s sentencing. It’s hard to imagine what Flynn could do to improve on that.

Which leaves the possibility that Flynn knows of something — some other crime, whether by Trump and his circle, or some of his other pals — that he can offer to federal prosecutors. It is possible that, seeing an angry judge talking about treason and imagining prison, Flynn unforgot somethings he knows, so took his lawyer aside and said there was another area he might be willing to share with prosecutors.

Trump Risks Clemency

A more likely motivation, for Flynn, is the hope that Trump will decide to give Flynn the pardon he floated over a year ago. If Flynn delays long enough, Trump might get into a place where it’ll be politically feasible for him to commute any sentence Flynn makes.

Maybe he, like the nutters who occupy the same bubble he does, that after a series of false hoaxes over the last year, someone will finally discover something that will provide the excuse Trump needs.

Or maybe he’s just delaying in hopes that one of the long shot challenges to Mueller’s authority — or perhaps his firing — will get him off his charges.

All of these, of course, would amount to a play for time, in the hopes that his fortune will improve.

Kelner Falls on His Sword

After they came back from the break, Robert Kelner said something suggesting that Sullivan shouldn’t penalize Flynn in his sentencing for something his attorney (that is, he, Kelner) had written in a sentencing memo.

It’s unclear to me whether Kelner was referencing the stunt suggesting there were extenuating circumstances explaining why Flynn lied or a reference he made to David Petraeus (Sullivan explicitly suggested he thought Petraeus got an easy deal). It’s equally unclear to me how much of Sullivan’s tirade today stemmed from Flynn’s actual conduct (and the sweet deal he himself got) or the stunt.

Particularly if it’s the former, then it’s possible to win some favor from Sullivan by having Kelner even more publicly fall on his sword, claiming (the claim would almost certainly be utter bullshit) that it was his idea to try that stunt. That might provide Flynn an opportunity to present a new, chastened sentencing memo in March, such that Sullivan would be more amicable to giving him probation.

There’s a tension underlying this: One reason Flynn wanted to get sentenced early was so he could return to sleazy influence peddling so he could pay his legal bills. Now he’s looking at still more legal bills for a stunt that he probably demanded.

The Unfolding Turkish and Russian Stories Change the Context

Judge Sullivan (or his clerks) have read, at a minimum, the following:

  • An unredacted copy of Flynn’s 302
  • An unredacted copy of the McCabe memo
  • A partly unredacted copy of the Strzok 302 (some parts of it are not relevant to this case, so may not have been shared)
  • An unredacted copy of Flynn’s cooperation addendum
  • An ex parte version of the Flynn cooperation addendum including details Flynn doesn’t know
  • Information, in some form, on the Kian indictment

And there are still some sealed items in Flynn’s docket.

So Sullivan should have a pretty complete idea of what cooperation Flynn has given.

That said, it’s not impossible that as both the Kian prosecution (I suspect he’ll plead) and the Russian investigation proceeds, additional information will become known — or at least public — to change the context of Flynn’s actions. Maybe, if the crimes of his business partner end up far worse than we know, Flynn’s treatment for the foreign agent charge won’t appear as easy. Maybe, if people next to Trump get charged with serious crimes, the value of Flynn’s cooperation will make him look less like a sell-out.

But the opposite could happen, as well. As his co-conspirators attempt to save themselves, they may be able to present credible evidence about stuff Flynn has thus far suppressed (if not from Mueller, from the public).

And what if Trump ultimately quits in disgrace? Sure, he could pardon his co-conspirators on the way out (though I doubt he’d do that if there weren’t a benefit to him). But if Trump leaves in disgrace, Flynn’s continued good relations with Trump may only make him look like more of a sell-out.

The point is, short of finding other criminals to flip on or finding a way to remove Mueller’s authority, it’s not clear how Flynn’s fortune can improve over the next three months, and there are definitely ways his fortune could go south.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

129 replies
  1. Trip says:

    I said this in the last article. I think the judge wants Flynn to change his attitude. Flynn wants it both ways: a nice get out of jail free card, while also riding the Trump conspiracy pony that he was entrapped (being that all he did was lie, when he didn’t know he couldn’t) so he can remain a hero in that camp and, as you said, make money in the nutwing circles. If he had been sentenced to no time today, he and his son would have gone full force with the judge found something yadda yadda conspiracy, Flynn was innocent. Now he has to wait it out. Maybe the remainder of the investigation surrounding him will be close to finished by the time he is sentenced and maybe in the meanwhile he’ll keep his trap shut.



  2. bmaz says:

    I do not see much problematic if Flynn testifies in EDVA, should the prosecution request it. Prosecutors deal with “liars” every day, and the EDVA case is not anything he was established to lie about in the SCO plea. Sure any Kian defense could say, “But, but, without the plea you’d be sitting over there at the defense table, right?” And then the witness calmly says, “Yes, that is why I cooperated and told the truth here”.

    Though agree Kian unlikely to go to trial. Which, again, assuming there is not something Flynn withheld from SCO, brings back the question of what in the world would be different in 90 days as to sentencing, and the answer is nothing but Sullivan’s temper.

    • Avattoir says:

      Right: juries expect and appreciate a tour guide to even an essentially documented case.

      Plus it raises something that I remember having a number of blue skies talks about with public corruption experts on the several occasions when I got drafted into relief duty on that front.

      Do juries actually look forward to watching defending attorneys rake the co-conspirator / insider / informant / rat category of government witnesses over the coals? Do they feel actually cheated when they’re DENIED this part of the passion play? And who they gonna blame for that little disappointment?

      The consensus among the folks who spend their careers going after corporate fraudsters & dirty government cheats was ALWAYS ‘Yes’.

      Whenever I or someone else raised this, it was never dismissed out of hand; it’s a honest, serious question, and the options are tantalizing. But in the end, it always came down to this conceit: juries are made up of humans, humans like stories, humans tend to prefer their stories told in classic form (narrative), and typically that comes down to calling an insider witness at narrator.

      Bonus if there’s an articulate, sympathetic victim who can do the job, but it’s rare to find someone in that position, and even then things can go awry (like if the victim is a bank).

      It can get a bit sophisticated: sometimes – I’ve been more sensitive to this reality on the defense side – prosecution WANTS defense to go after their rodent. Over the centuries, prosecutors have worked up all manner of standard jury speeches about how it takes big bait to catch the big game (almost like the government is BEAMING that their star witnesses admitted to a hit or 3:

      ‘See, folks: that just means this case is the BIG time – and we chose YOU to defend the republic against the bad guys. Time to step up and answer the call of duty – we’re all depending on you folks!’)

      • bmaz says:

        Also, you need them to enter and/or corroborate documentary evidence. The big bugaboo about “oooh, the witness is a liar!” is way overrated in criminal trial cases. A LOT of them are, you just deal, depending on which side you are on.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          Let only he or she without sin stand before the court and take the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Lying is a sin according to Commandment # 9, for those so inclined.

          Where did everyone go?

  3. Kevin says:

    My Twitter and real worlds united today as I stood behind Zoe Tillman in line to get in to court and noticed she was reading Marcy’s tweets on her phone.

  4. dbl says:

    I thought it was odd that the prosecution was agreeable to sentencing this week. Isn’t possible that Flynn was involved in other crimes and that they were simply setting a trap for him when his guard might be down after this sentencing.

    • bmaz says:

      It was not odd in the slightest. The prosecution thought they had gotten the cooperation they needed, and Flynn wanted to be done. This is perfectly fine. There was no trap.

  5. larry says:

    Isn’t the reason he accepted the delay simply that he thought, at that point, he was about to be sentenced to jail?  No brainer.

    • bmaz says:

      In a sense, that is almost certainly true. As Marcy and I have both said, the real sentencing parameters are unlikely to materially change, for a variety of reasons. But it gets Flynn past the holidays, and gives Sullivan a chance to calm down. I think Flynn and Kelner’s initial decision to go ahead today was very correct…..until it became crystal clear that Sullivan was further inviting, and almost requesting, a way out.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        So let me get this straight. Maybe I’m misreading the CW. A United States District Judge, of the opinion that the prosecution is out of line, charging a disgraced flag officer of the United States Military only for lying to the FBI and recommending a minimal sentence: because disgraced officer is willing to sacrifice the people he willing conspired with, for money, in a blatant attempt to subvert American governance, while simultaneously in the employ of the United States of America as the primary National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, needs to cool off and is looking for a way out to keep from embarrassing himself?

        I’m sorry, which way is up?

  6. AnotherKevin says:

    I had a slightly different take on the postponement. Trump’s tweet today to Flynn seemed to both suggest that Trump believes Flynn still has some damage he can do to Trump and spawn (essentially saying, “stay strong, don’t rat the serious stuff”), and also setting up a potential pardon (“Entrapment! Witch hunt!”). If Flynn had been sentenced today, and the judge hadn’t demolished the frothy Right’s talking points, I was half expecting Trump to pardon Flynn immediately. I think Trump could have gotten away with a pardon of Flynn much more easily than a pardon of Manafort.

    I understand that Flynn has already given testimony on things we don’t know about (great article on the big redacted section in one of the latest filings!), and a pardon of Flynn is likely locking the barn door after the cows are far gone, but I don’t think Trump et al. are thinking 3 moves ahead, like Mueller. It could  have created quite a sh*tstorm. Instead, Trump and the kids need to hold their breath a little longer, because a pardon now would look really really bad.

    In all, I have to think the OSC is pretty happy with this turn of events.

    • Kevin says:

      I very much doubt this. The SCO is clearly signaling that they think he’s been totally truthful with them.

      • AnotherKevin says:

        What I wrote was not about the extent to which I think Flynn has been truthful with the SCO, it was about what Trump seems to think. Trump, and the rest of his Fox echo chamber, have taken a completely different approach to Flynn compared to Cohen. They’ve talked about him respectfully, made excuses for him, encouraged him, and generally seemed to be laying the groundwork for a pardon.

        It’s a separate issue if a pardon would have changed anything in the SCO’s investigations. It may not have, and it would have created other issues for Trump. But it may also have been an excuse for Trump to try again to shut down the SCO, though that seems like a long shot. Still, Trump thinks he thrives amidst chaos, and with Flynn pardoned the narrative they were crafting (“American hero was just doing his job, gets entrapped!”) would likely have stuck with at least the wacko-right base. All I’m saying is the sentencing postponement put a cork in all that, and allows the details of Flynn and his cohorts’ work with Turkey come into the full light of day.

        • Kevin says:

          I agree to the extent that the delay is risky for Flynn by allowing more of his dealings to come to light. But I don’t think a pardon is on the table, if for no other reason than Trump is extremely transparent and we know what it looks like (Manafort) when he is considering pardoning someone. We’ll see if I’m right…

          • AnotherKevin says:

            It may be true that a Flynn pardon wasn’t really on the table, but I don’t think we can judge anything by the approach Trump took with Manafort. In that case, his overt suggestions of a possible pardon stimulated a rapid and nearly unanimous negative reaction. As I recall both WH counsel and some key congressional Republicans publicly denounced the idea, while activists were calling for national protests if it happened. Trump may not be nearly as smart as he thinks he is, but he is shrewd enough to not step in exactly the same pile of poo twice. Or rather, if he’s going to step in it, he’s going to do it with a different pair of shoes.

      • oldoilfieldhand says:

        Any chance Flynn, the military intelligence expert, used the same technique on the SCO that effectively persuaded the FBI agents that he was not lying?

        • Alan says:

          The FBI agents were not in the least bit convinced Flynn was not lying, in fact, the exact opposite–they were certain he was lying, but they did note that he showed no “indica” of lying.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I don’t think so in the least. Mueller’s team was ready to be done with this. People read way too much imagination into things they are not familiar with.

  7. di says:

    the 12/17 rachel maddow show did a nice job concisely outlining the history to current day on this, if you don’t want to read multiple articles. she’d obviously kept track of this for some time.  either way, flynn comes across as extremely sleazy and treasonous, and pence covered for him. impeach & indict pence. they almost make the prez look more decent. what a cabal of a bunch of sickos.

  8. pseudonymous in nc says:

    OT / breaking: the Mystery Sealed Case was about a company owned by a foreign state and the scope of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

    I wasn’t *too* far off in thinking that it might be about the limits of diplomatic immunity, but I didn’t consider that it might be a corporate entity.

      • harpie says:

        From the article:

        According to the sources, the officials have information they claim details Nader’s involvement in a December 2016 meeting that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE had with Trump officials at Trump Tower, including Kushner, incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn and incoming chief strategist Steve Bannon.

        I think Marcy recently wrote about a December 1, 2016 meeting …don’t know if this might be it.
        added: guess not, this is from the Flynn 302 post:
        […] The longest redaction in the 302 may be the one that hides Flynn’s description of the December 1 meeting with himself and Jared Kushner (Don Jr came in at some point — the meeting was conducted in his office) where Jared asked for a back channel of communications. […]

  9. Richieboy says:

    I wonder if His Honor’s offer of a delay also served as a way to shield the SCO’s office from criticism from the frothies (though I’m not arguing this was conscious on His Honor’s part). I’ve read a lot here about how prosecutors generally want to be seen as playing fair and square when it comes to sentencing cooperators. Like Flynn’s lawyers, they recommended no time. But then Flynn’s pre-sentencing memo called the FBI’s ethics w/Flynn into question, which justifiably pissed off the prosecutors, leading them to reveal more of Flynn’s mendacity, while also offering strong refutation that they played dirty with him. This put the SCO in a bind. They don’t want to be seen as not standing up for their cooperators, but neither do they want to be a doormat for the frothies. Had sentencing proceeded today and had the judge, on his own, ignored the SCO’s recommendation of no jail time and sentenced Flynn to the pokey, I’m guessing it damn sure wouldn’t be the judge’s scalp that the frothies were howling for, it’d be the SCO. Because witch hunt. They may still howl in 90 days, but their credibility will be even worse then than it is now.
    As much as anything, though, I’m blown away by how today’s hearing demonstrated (once again!) how smart and perceptive you are, Ms. Wheeler. You called this from a mile away. Keep on killin’ it.

  10. Kevin says:

    One thing I have yet to see reported is that Sullivan told the parties after the delay was announced that he intends to ask a lengthy series of questions of both Flynn and the government to learn more about the circumstances of the crime. He said he will give them more information about the kind of questions he expects to ask when sentencing arrives. The one example he gave was “what was the material effect the lies had on the investigation?”

    That opens the door for the kind of discussion I was hoping to hear today, particularly if Flynn is asked /why/ he lied.

    • Avattoir says:

      Now, that does sound Sirica-esque. So maybe Sullivan feels a tag-team with Beryl Howell and Jackson is in order. It is, after all, a court pretty packed full with Rule of Law types (and no Kavanaugh, on first appeal at least, to mess with the soup).

  11. Jenny says:

    Thanks Marcy for the possible scenarios.

    WOW!  Expect the unexpected unexpectedly, I say regarding today’s events.   There is so much more gunk to be exposed.  Unwrapping one gunky layer at a time.

  12. Kai-Lee says:

    Pseudonymous et al – any guesses? (on a related topic)

    from CNN just now:

    Four days after attorneys secretly argued over a grand jury subpoena suspected to be related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election, a federal appeals court is forcing an unnamed company to comply with the subpoena.

    The appeals court did not identify the company, nor did the appellate judges say the subpoena was related to the Mueller investigation. The company that sought to quash the subpoena is owned by a foreign country, the ruling Tuesday said.
    But the hearing Friday came after several other secretive court clashes between Mueller’s team and the company that received the subpoena, apparently over a grand jury action. The US Circuit Court in DC had locked down an entire floor of the courthouse Friday to prevent disclosure of the lawyers’ identities. ~ This is a breaking story and will be updated.

    Popcorn stocks are soaring!

    • Kai-Lee says:

      If it’s Deutschebank that has just lost its appeal at Mueller’s grand jury, then this seems timely and relevant, and suggestive that crimes are ongoing. Qatar seems to have been battling with Saudi Arabia for Kushner/Trump spoils.

      Qatar is considering increasing its holding in Deutsche Bank. “We will invest in a large financial institution in Germany,” Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida, CEO of the state-owned Qatar Financial Center, told Handelsblatt, adding this would be announced shortly.

      • Chromiumbook0000 says:

        Kai, I’m basing this off of zero legal knowledge (so take w/grain of salt), but I’d be surprised if Qatar’s 6% stake in German DB would make for a compelling jurisdictional claim. That said, id love it if it were DB!
        I’ll go with a couple of longshots. . .

        1) 1MDB (the Corp entity as opposes to the Jho Low case): Some amalgomation of US geopolitical strategy to protect Goldman; Trump inauguration violations; and DOJ taking a much harder line on laundered funds that are entering the country;

        2) Eurasia Resources Group: Machkevitch (ie Seychelles, Trump investment partner, Sater cross-reference, Solntsevskaya Bratva connections, Tevfik Arif connections, etc);  Ibragimov (Trump Soho ML via S*ter created entities, etc); Chiding.

        Alrhough i have no idea whether either of those would fit the bill for DC Circuit Grand Jury:

    • harpie says:

      Here’s Wendy Siegelman with “a few guesses”. Also, she continues:

      Alfa Bank, Deutsche Bank, Cambridge Analytica etc are not owned by a country

      …which is part of the description from the filing [Zoe Tillman]:

      it’s about a company (unnamed) owned by a country (unnamed)



      • Alan says:

        Lawfare has some good guide posts–corporation majority owned by a foreign country that apparently does not have support the company enough at this point to keep deeply involved in this legal issue

      • Kai-Lee says:

        Hmmmmm. Some have been suggesting China. Other mumblings – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or Russia (perhaps Sberbank?). Most seem to be suggesting it’s a banking institution, however. Hard to say when/if we will know.

  13. new-radical says:

    This was a stunt that went horribly wrong. I can’t find the strategy and that bothers me as strategic thinking is supposed to be my mantel.

    Choose your experts well, is an old saying from the management consulting industry. If you need expert advice, seek it and then you would be a fool not to follow that advice.

    I have heard that Flynn’s defence is supposed to be top-shelf. If it was their idea it was a terrible one. What was their strategic objective? If it was them, then Flynn should have accepted it (yes I know you can dismiss your lawyers, but how does that make sense?)

    If it was Flynn’s idea his team should have stopped him, or walked away from the case. How does all this work? Have all the moral compasses been lost?

    “There’s a tension underlying this: One reason Flynn wanted to get sentenced early was so he could return to sleazy influence peddling so he could pay his legal bills. Now he’s looking at still more legal bills for a stunt that he probably demanded”.

    And this is all in plain sight, before a judge who is unlikely to be sympathetic, FMD! Its just about sleazy bills driven by the corporate greed now apparently acceptable in this decadent uber-capitalist, morally bankrupt economic system.

    Wow! EW, this site is truly informative, thanks.


    • Rick Ryan says:

      I think the “strategy” might just be the simple fact that if Flynn’s livelihood is sleazy influence peddling, he needs to make it known that he ain’t no snitch. It seems plausible if not likely to me that Flynn insisted on slipping that ‘they tricked me! it was a trap!’ bit into the record so he could point to it later when prospective “clients” demanded assurance that he wouldn’t just roll over like an early-’00s Ford Escape if the Feds caught wind and decided the sleazy influence being peddled was a bit too sleazy for their taste.

      As for why the lawyers went along with it, well clearly they miscalculated how much blowback they would get from Sullivan – they probably figured that if both sides wanted no jail time, he’d get no jail time, and a couple sentences of lame excuse wouldn’t change that – and I have to wonder if that whole “he can’t afford to pay unless he gets back to sleazy influence peddling” thing might have thrown off their risk assessment a bit, if only subconsciously.

  14. Distant Replay says:

    ” It is possible that, seeing an angry judge talking about treason and imagining prison, Flynn unforgot somethings he knows,”

    IANAL, but wouldn’t this be fraught from a legal perspective? Would the court want to be in a position to have induced additional “cooperation” under such circumstances that it could be implied that it led instead to perjury?

  15. gedouttahear says:

    I think Sullivan — without necessarily intending to, he was just being straightforward — must have scared the shit out of Flynn and his lawyers. The judge as much as said in open court that the court is calling Flynn on his cute little “entrapment” ploy and / or his lawyers fucked-up. He also said– without yet ruling — that the pokie was definitely a possibility. And though the judge walked it back, he also put out there that if not “treason” under the statutes, that this creeps’ criminality is in the nature of being very adverse to the nation. Basically, I think the judge pulled off the veneer of “patriot serving his country” — Sullivan said in open court that he could not hide his disgust and disdain — that against all the evidence, but with the help of the MSM, the trumpies have been covering Flynn with. One result I think of today’s proceeding is that the risks to the putz prez — legal and political — of a pardon increased.

  16. Rapier says:

    I take a more sanguine or is it a cynical view on the treason thing. Trump and all his players were in this first to make money. Trump org by keeping the Russian rich guys happy and money flowing and Flynn to perform services for Turkish clients.  In the big geopolitical realm it’s arguable,  not well perhaps but arguable, that either of these things went against US interests.  I mean you tell me what the US  interests are in regard to Russia or Turkey and the ever changing situation?  Does the US have any interest is this Gulen guys existence?  Sure they went counter to Obama policy, I guess, whatever that was. Freedom!   If working against US policy was treason then Allan Dulles in Switzerland during WWII should have earned a rope but he ended up being the first and longest serving CIA director.

    It’s a shoe-in that Trump thinks whatever is in his financial interest is in the US interest. When Flynn went round the bend he probably does now too. (This is not a problem for Manafort however who doesn’t give a flying about national interests for him it’s pure money)

    In a way this using power to advance personal financial interests is the greatest sin of all in this era.  Now if Flynn had been selling Russia detailed secrets of US military planning and such then sure that would be worse than trying to make a dime but  he was just putting his thumb on the scales to get Gulen into a Turkish prison.

    To extend the thought now Fox personalities making millions a year are defending Trumps cashing in on policy. A perfect vicious circle.

      • JPM says:

        Granted.  And yet, Judge Sullivan is not generally an unreasonable guy. What does the Judge know that we don’t which made him angry enough at the prospect that Flynn was getting off lightly to pop off inappropriately about treason?  That’s the intriguing question yesterday’s hearing leaves us with.  The Turkish lobbying, the lies and trafficking in an exculpatory conspiracy theory aren’t nearly enough to provoke a normally sober judge to rave at a defendant the way Judge Sullivan did yesterday.  The judge knows something, and sooner or later we will find out what it is.

      • J R in WV says:

        Cyberwarfare has that second part “warfare” for a reason, it is real warfare with weapons other than muskets and halberds. Perhaps you are too naive about the dangers of cyber warfare?

        Russia is clearly and obviously an enemy of the United States, as is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which attacked the twin towers and the pentagon using our own aircraft to do so, as is Turkey fighting our allies the Kurds in the middle-east.

        So I am willing to say we’re just going to have to agree to disagree about this Treason thing – these guys (Trump and his supporters and family, NRA, Republican National Committee, Fox News, etc) are selling out this country to an enemy and that enemy is making war upon us, our electoral procedure, our economy, and our polity.

        That is Treason by the book/Constitution and the Judge seems to agree, I hear he’s a lawyer somehow!! I swore an oath to defend the Constitution, and it sorely need that defense now, today, from Trump and our external and internal enemies!

        You can disagree all you want, and I suppose by a very strict reading of the Constitutional definition you may be correct, but I’m with defending the Constitution myself, personally, regardless of your opinions, and no matter now often you repeat yourself. Seems like Judge Sullivan may agree with me, also too.

  17. folksie says:

    Something I can’t get my head round:

    – Judge Sullivan has reacted so negatively to Flynn’s performance in court and to the records he’s seen of Flynn’s cooperation with the FBI.
    – From the tone of Trump’s tweets about Flynn, it comes across as though he considers Flynn in some sense on-side.

    Why has Mueller and the SCO been so positive about Flynn’s cooperation?

    The SCO’s sentencing memo on Flynn made it seem like there was nothing more Flynn could possibly do to assist them. That just doesn’t seem to square up with the indicators mentioned above.

    The only explanation I can come up with is that the SCO seized on Flynn’s cooperation as a lever with which to entice (or scare) others into cooperating. By creating the perception that Flynn was wholeheartedly spilling the beans (*even if they knew this was only partly true*), it could have encouraged, or scared, others to cooperate as well. There’s the carrot (Flynn’s getting fair treatment, I can as well) and the stick (what has Flynn told them, what do they know about me?).

    • bmaz says:

      Why can you not “get your head around” that? The dynamics in criminal cases, especially at sentencing, rarely line up at all, much less perfectly. The SCO gave the recommendation they did because they thought it appropriate. This is really not that hard, and people should quit coming up with anti-Occam’s Razor theories that proclaim it to be so.

  18. new-radical says:

    The only thing Simplicio enjoys is fucking people around. Friend or foe, he cares not. The play with the Congress at the moment with the Govt. shutdown, is a “fuck you” to everyone. Not for a strategic reason, Simplicio is not playing 3D chess. Its because he loves it!
    Of course he is narcissistic to the point of insanity. Most will know of 50 Shades… that’s the good bit of the mental issues, but perhaps not so much ‘the classics’. It strikes me that the writings of the Marquis de Sade would be very appropriate for an analysis of his character. Sadist is not a descriptor I have heard in the MSM, is that yet a bridge too far?
    He loves only himself and one other, “Ivan [a]ka the Terrible”, all the others, the two idiot sons, the third unknown quantity and the WTF daughter can get ready for the meeting with the bus.
    He will dangle pardons at all the players in his orbit, but only the fringe morons like Sheriff Arpaio, who are simply not worth the bother, will get one. Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, will all be tortured, at his “Majesty’s Pleasure”.
    Ah, ha, ha, Tomás de Torquemada has a reputational rival.

  19. Charlevene says:

    Isn’t the question why Emmett Sullivan believes there’s a “next”? Corollary to that is why d.dump so boldly encourages Flynn. Does d.dump know what Flynn has said, and what he has not said? I know Marcy Wheeler’s excellent work but just started to visit this site. Can anyone point me to a discussion of this, or offer a contribution to one. Sullivan appears to know, or suspect, something beyond his having enough of Flynn’s playing cute by fueling a conspiracy theory, playing to the peaNUT gallery. And if there is something, why would Mueller not pursue everything rather than be content with Flynn’s truncated admissions? Insights into any of these questions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • bmaz says:

      No, that is not the question. And who exactly is “d.dump”? Do you think that lends credibility to your comment?

      As to your last question, because that is simply what prosecutors do with early and substantial cooperating witnesses. Do you think there is a problem with that in the criminal justice system? If so, how exactly do you think the criminal justice system should deal with cooperating witnesses trying to help the government?

      • Charlevene says:

        You speak by fiat.  It is indeed the question, as it motivated the judge’s decision.  Your hallow decree is just that, and nothing more.  As for my reference to d.dump, my guess is that even you can figure that out.  My appellation is apt and purposeful.  No apology if you don’t like it.

        As for your response to my last question, you are wrong.  It’s what prosecutors can do.  They are not limited by the criminal justice system, just by their strategy in exacting the information they think they need or can get.  But it surely is not “simply what” they do.  Both of my questions still stand.

        • bmaz says:

          Naw, I speak from actually having done this and understanding it, even if in this…um…an interesting and unique situation. It was wild, but nothing unpredictable happened today as to the Flynn situation. If anything, it was that the judge went a little overly animated.

          • Charlevene says:

            Perhaps you’ve “done this.”  I have no way of knowing.  But from what I see, you don’t understand it.  One might expect an “animated” response from a judge giving a sentence to a once, highest level US intelligence official who has lied about Russian contacts when he didn’t need to, and concealed being a well-compensated foreign agent.  As I recall, the expectation from most experts that I know really have “done this” is that Sullivan would accommodate Mueller (eg Chuck Rosenberg).   The judge hardly behaved predictably.

            Perhaps Mueller did get all he could, and he better have.  And all he could get better be all that is there.  If the judge wanted that ascertained, I am grateful.  We all should be.  There should be questions about d.dump’s cheerleading for Flynn.  I am not prone to advance opinions that I can’t verify, but I can easily construct a plausible explanation given ballast by the past actions of Flynn and d.dump.  We don’t know what Flynn gave to Mueller.  Given his crimes and contempt for the country in his mendacity and corruption, he better have given much to Mueller in exchange for a reduced sentence and fewer charges.

            My questions stand: 1.) Did Flynn give Mueller everything he has, and I mean everything?  2.) Why is d.dump tweeting to Flynn?  Everything considered, these are more than reasonable and very important questions.  Unfortunately, you haven’t come close to shining a light on either, your unproven claims to knowledge aside.  It could be that Flynn was showboating for the vile,  ignorant, and gullible.  That would be consistent with his past behavior.  Regardless of anything else, the judge could rightly have been offended by that.  But I can’t speak for the judge, although I can say that much of what he said should have been said.  More than ever, we need our justice system to work, and not to be treated like a toy that is  the booty of the biggest bully.

            • bmaz says:

              Okay, thank you for the admission. And as a defense attorney, whether my own, or those of others, I bet over thirty years I have sat through quite a bit more of this than Rosenberg, who actually, in the end agreed with me.

              But, okay. Please tell how you understand it that better informed people.

              • Charlevene says:

                Once again you claim without demonstration that you know something.  And last I heard him, Rosenberg does not agree with you beyond his concern about the judge’s “animated” performance.  This is a discussion, not an interview.  Your supposed vita is irrelevant.  For starters, reply to the questions rather than tout your credentials.  More experienced in this than Chuck Rosenberg, eh?  Guess that depends what “this” is.  Yep– Intentional.

            • Alan says:

              > 1.) Did Flynn give Mueller everything he has, and I mean everything?

              Of course not.

              Please remember that Mueller has a job to do, and prosecuting Flynn for everything he can get is not Mueller’s job description–in fact, just the opposite–Mueller’s job is to find what he reasonably can on Flynn and leverage that to get as much info as he can to advance the Russia-Trump coordination investigation. And he’s very good at his job, so there is little reason for anyone here to second guess him.

              • Charlevene says:

                I too respect Bob Mueller and have, or very much want have, faith and confidence in his judgement.  And of course I have thought that Mueller calculated and executed a plan for getting the max.  I also understand the potential consequences of Mueller’s agreements being undermined.  But if Flynn is playing games, that too obviates his understanding with Mueller.  The judge has every right, even obligation, to respond to Flynn’s playing to the rightwingnut media.  He also has the obligation to act in response to public theater starring d.dump and Flynn.

                My assumption is that Sullivan read the redacted sections of all  documents.   I appreciated and agree with your well-made point that d.dump only knows what Flynn wants him to know.  You should also agree that we know is what the justice system allows us to know.

                We are no longer “early” in the investigation, when Mueller decided what he could get and needed then.  Flynn, not Sullivan, de facto changed the terms of the agreement and brought suspicion upon himself.  Mueller kept his end of the agreement made then.  Flynn broke the agreement now, as he is brought to sentencing.  Mueller’s investigation advances by rules and agreements he makes in accordance with law.  When those agreements are broken, and subjected to farce, what is Mueller’s responsibility?

                  • Charlevene says:

                    His responsibility is far greater than merely completing the investigation.  The only acceptable end of the story is a just conclusion.

    • Alan says:

      > Isn’t the question why Emmett Sullivan believes there’s a “next”?

      I don’t understand this question.

      > Corollary to that is why d.dump so boldly encourages Flynn.

      IMO cause Flynn has shown signs of going back to the dark side and Trump wants to encourage, and as a signal to other potential witnesses, and to continue casting public doubt on the fairness of the investigation.

      > Does d.dump know what Flynn has said, and what he has not said?

      Trump knows only what Flynn wants him to know.

      > And if there is something, why would Mueller not pursue everything rather than be content with Flynn’s truncated admissions?

      Because Mueller needed info from at least one person in the inner circle, and decided to offer Flynn a very attractive deal to get his early cooperation.

      • Richieboy says:

        “Trump only knows what Flynn wants him to know.” And Flynn can betray no physical signs of deception to FBI agents who KNOW he’s lying. Trump’d be his patsy.

      • Charlevene says:

        If I understand you, Flynn played games as another twist on the nozzle of d.dump’s ceaseless firehose of BS, and that he may be lying to d.dump.  Both plausible explanations, although neither is entirely convincing, or complete.  My opening question, that you did not understand, used “next” literally and figuratively.  I have already offered (see above) conjectures on that, but my question, actually a statement, wasn’t opaque at all.  Why did Judge Sullivan take the opportunity to ensure that all testimony was given by Flynn instead of following Mueller’s lead, and at the same time make it clear to Flynn that our justice system, or at least he, will protect our country from the likes of him.

  20. Strawberry Fields says:

    When the judge accused flynn of treason, the media pushed back at the claim, saying that he wasnt working for Turkey when he was sworn in, but is it possible that the judge meant Russia and had to backtrack because it’s still confidential?

    • bmaz says:

      You mean “the media” after they saw that people who actually know what they are talking about recoiled in horror?? That “media”?

      • new-radical says:

        It was astonishing that ‘the court’ should use the treason word and then not explain itself (would that have just dug him in deeper?)

        Outside the adversarial world of the law and the subsequent construct that first came from the play by George Chapman (1654) and the work of Henry De Vere Stacpoole (1917) but probably better known from Dickens’ Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist (1837), it appears obvious that Flynn’s behaviour could be construed as treasonous.

        Examine the assumptions of Flynn’s actions, what did he actually sell and who wanted to buy?

        He had been the USA’s top military intelligence officer. He had access to the Western World’s most sensitive secrets. So what did he sell, and what is the common understanding of the word that describes that action?


  21. JimmyC says:

    Long time reader, first time writer. Thanks for all the knowledge I have gained from reading these articles.
    May I be allowed to ask a question(s) of all of you that know much more than myself?
    Say Mueller can connect the dots and prove that Trump not only knew, but directed Flynn’s contacts with Russians regarding sanctions. What is the fall-out? Is Trumps only exposure the Logan Act? Do we know if Mueller asked Trump about this situation in the questions he submitted to Trump? Are those answers Trump gave to Muellers questions considered “under oath”?

  22. cat herder says:

    I accept full responsibility for my actions, which are somebody else’s fault because they tricked me, and for which I should not be punished at all.

  23. Laura says:

    Lurker here.

    I’m *still* gobsmacked by a) Flynn lying to the FBI; then b) Flynn’s attorneys’ ridiculous claims about the FBI not warning Flynn about All The Legal Consequences.


    I’ve worked in the national security world for over 2 decades and I’ve held high-level clearances my entire career.  Those of us with TS/SCI access go through federal background investigations roughly every 5 years.  We also regularly meet with FBI and/or OPM investigators for re-investigation interviews about our colleagues.  We’re thoroughly socialized into cooperating with federal agents truthfully and completely.  NO ONE who’s been through the clearance investigation process as many times as Flynn has in his 30+ years of service could credibly assert naïveté about proper responses to FBI investigative questions.  You just don’t screw around during an FBI interview.  Period.  End of story.

    Anyway, count me *thrilled* that Sullivan excoriated Flynn and his legal team for their pre-sentencing Fox News fuckery.  I’m enjoying a  a tiny bit of schadenfreude this evening.


    • Jockobadger says:

      Laura – Great post. You speak for me, as well.

      bmaz – I wish you’d unload on Charlevene. I’m betting I’m not alone.

      Keep up the good work.

      • Laura says:

        Why, thank you, Jockobadger! I was a bit nervous because this is a group of quite smart commenters.  Sounds like you’re another of the silently disgusted national security workforce.  I’m just glad I never had to work at DIA while Flynn was there – sounds like he went batshit crazy.

    • Fran of the North says:


      Thanks for your perspective. My father was a high ranking officer in US Army intel during the depths of the cold war. Our family LIVED the life. I have nothing but disrespect for Michael Flynn. Not only did he sell out his country, he sold out both the fine men and women that he led, and the US military.

      As a point of comparison, my father’s graduation exercise from language/intel school was a 6 month tour of the east block nations. All along the way they drank and interfaced with various foreign intel operatives, in training for their coming careers. The DIA graduates of the program weren’t allowed to attend due to the compartmentalized nature of the info they had and the potential damages if they ‘slipped’.

      And now we have the former Director of DIA holding himself out for hire? Worse, he wraps himself in the flag as a hero. Screw him and the horse he rode in on.

      • Laura says:

        Hi Fran,

        I bet your dad had some stories!

        Flynn isn’t just disrespectful; his behavior was bizarre.  You’d think that someone who has presumably been exposed to  intel sources & methods mightvthunk, ‘Gee, perhaps the

        • Laura says:

          ARGH.  Where was I?


          You’d think Flynn would have listened to that little voice that was  perhaps telling him, ‘Someone was probably monitoring the Russian ambassador’s phone calls.’  Apparently that common-sense instinct for legal self-preservation failed – along with his oath to defend and protect, etc., etc.

    • Trip says:

      I don’t buy his lawyers’ bullshit explanation of the memo, whereby the FBI not telling Flynn that lying to them is a crime was simply an attempt to juxtapose the warnings to others versus Flynn, either. If that had been the case, and not promoting a conspiracy theory, there would have been no reason to add that the FBI agents had been under investigation. It was clearly written to cast suspicion/aspersion on the FBI investigators.

  24. Alan says:


    > Why did Judge Sullivan take the opportunity to ensure that all testimony was given by Flynn instead of following Mueller’s lead

    Because that is Judge Sullivan’s standard practice in all criminal cases to ensure the defendant’s Constitutional Rights are protected. See docket entry # 20 at

    > at the same time make it clear to Flynn that our justice system, or at least he, will protect our country from the likes of him.

    Because Flynn is a confessed criminal and that is Judge Sullivan’s job, which I’m sure he takes very seriously.

  25. TW Polk says:

    Watching Last Word and I think Dan Goldman (legal analyst) is exactly right. Today, the judge was angry at Mueller and PROSECUTORS for giving Flynn such a sweetheart deal for such egregious conduct. And I think Sullivan was right to be angry. It’s not clear that this plea deal is in the best interest in justice.

    Sullivan has read all the sealed docs and it seems to me that he doesn’t understand why Mueller made this sweetheart plea deal for basically probation, when his crimes were so egregious. I think it’s a real problem for the OSC in the long run. The judge wants a better explanation from the OSC as to what made Flynn’s cooperation worth this hand slap.


    • bmaz says:

      So, you and Dan Goldman think it is ALL about that, and that it had nothing to do with Flynn and Kelner trying to undercut the entire basis for the guilty plea, and voluntariness thereof?

      Why, then, do you propose that Sullivan merely continued sentencing instead of rejecting the plea? Because if what you and Goldman are propounding is correct, Sullivan would have rejected the plea, which he has full power to do.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The magic in the Dolchschlosslegende is gaslighting: blame, deny, blame, deny, blame, deny.

        As you say, Sullivan apparently resented the hell out of giving Flynn a light-to-no sentence, but he seems resigned about it being an important move in a larger game.

  26. Dcom says:

    I’ll preface this by saying I don’t know anything about plea deals,  but I think it’s entirely possible Flynn knows more.  He was the first to cooperate and as such likely provided significant value to Mueller to earn (or was agreed upon in advance) leniency, even if not in full.
    Additional, Trump’s tweets about Flynn make zero sense to me unless Trump still needs something.  Feels cryptic like, “Russia if your listening.” I’m betting there’s more and Trump knows it.  He’s trying to pull Flynn back to the dark side like Manafort and Paps (if he ever left). I don’t trust Flynn.  His son’s tweets reveal his true loyalty.

    Also, i suppose it’s possible that Flynn thought this hail mary might reveal something that would help him,  but highly unlikely.    It looks more to me like what the Republicans have been doing all along, creating another bullshit conspiracy to feed the crazies and fuel a narrative.  It’s possible that this was a bone Flynn was throwing to Trump.


  27. Jose says:

    This is very clearly an unusual situation. But while Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller may be just about done, there are other parts of the government he could substantially assist now. Starting with HPSCI, whose new Chairman today publicly called for Flynn’s testimony come January. If that testimony is as good as Robert Mueller seems to have thought it was, it could really be quite important for Congressional actions in 2019, setting the tone for what is sure to be a long year of political warfare between Senate Republicans who refuse to remove the President from office and House Democrats who continuously tear down at the man they protect for all his crimes and misconduct.

    All that said, I have empathy for the judge here: could you, knowing all of the despicable things Flynn did, really let him off the hook with no jail time?
    I wouldn’t be able to, and my message would be that Flynn already has an amazingly unbelievable deal with just pleading to lying to the Feds and getting to walk on all the other crap he did. These are hard questions, and you don’t really want to screw up the value of government motions for downward departure, but its genuinely difficult to let him off the hook when its up to you.

    I don’t think Mike Flynn is getting more than a year in prison come March, maybe less and maybe nothing at all but I have no doubt that that judge would’ve given him the highest sentence he could were there any indication from the government that he had not given them extraordinary help.

  28. new-radical says:

    Would someone kindly help me.
    Flynn was only charged with the FBI lie, pleaded guilty, sentence range 0-6 mths.
    What he has actually done, for which the govt. has evidence, seems to be significantly more than that, or so the judge implies. Perhaps the case of his business partner, whom some on this site, including I think EW, believe will plead, might provide some guidance – 0-6 mths, 1, 3 like Cohen, 5, 10. So what are the guidelines for the business partner if he pleads?
    Why did the Judge raise the possibility that Flynn might be a traitor, why did he ask counsels? I thought that I understood that there is no codified law in the USA and instead the definition of treason or treasonous act is in the constitution and requires a relationship with an enemy in a declared act of war.
    Flynn cannot be a traitor under the constitution written by several gentlemen who clearly understood what mad king George thought a traitor to be. Why did the learned gentlemen in the court today not know this from ‘First Year Course 101 Constitutional Law’, or have I got it all wrong.
    So, what can the judge give him? Six months, or more.
    More! Cohen is a two-bit NY hustler, he got three years and seems to know a lot more that he won’t disclose. Flynn is an international influencer, keen to go back and do a bit more influencing and the judge appears to know that.
    Three years for his simple guilty plea? He has not been charged or convicted for anything else. Can the judge sentence him for what the judge knows but for which he has not been tried. I think he is a monster, the very definition of political corruption.
    So, two questions:
    What is his probable sentence?
    What is theoretically possible?
    Thanks for any answers at the end of this long and late thread.

  29. sponson says:

    Just dropping in to say that I understand Charlevene’s questions and they seemed relevant and valid. What a strange situation to have someone just bash the hell out of somebody asking perfectly intelligent questions. I saw no trolling, conspiracy theory, or bad faith in them at all.

  30. taluslope says:


    > NO ONE who’s been through the clearance investigation process as many times as Flynn has in his 30+ years of service could credibly assert naïveté about proper responses to FBI investigative questions. You just don’t screw around during an FBI interview. Period. End of story.

    This has also totally confused me about Flynn. You lie to the FBI you get your clearance pulled. You get your clearance pulled you lose your job. And you are reminded of this every 5 years.

    In addition I understand Flynn worked in intelligence. He must have had an inkling that conversations with foreign ministers just may get out someway somehow. (Though I have no personal knowledge of the someway somehow.)

    • Greg Hunter says:

      He has been in government so long and has “served” at  the highest levels and watched people get away with literal murder, he felt he was immune.

    • Laura says:

      Yes! I commented above that anyone who’s worked with intelligence reporting would expect the IC and/or FBI to be continuously collecting on a Russian national as prominent as Sergei Inavovich Kislyak.  As with so many other things in his life, Flynn threw OPSEC right out the window.

  31. taluslope says:


    > Troll?  Do you think you’re on Breitbart?

    Unlike Breitbart this is a thoughtful and intelligent gathering place.  Calling one names like d.dump is neither thoughtful nor intelligent.


  32. Yette says:

    Judge Sullivan is my new hero.  I am in lockstep with him, Flynn actions appear to be treasonous.  Why is it that former military are somehow exempt from the full punishment of our laws?  
    In my opinion, both Flynn and Petraeus are a disgrace to the military they served.  Corporate America cannot wait to offer these criminals loads of cash.  Their so called honor disappeared when needed most.  While I’ll never know what Mueller knows, I’ll never understand how he could recommend Flynn for no time served. 

  33. Willis Warren says:

    There’s something weird about the way the judge went off on Flynn.  I suspect that whatever is in the redacted bits was the source of that.  That suggests to me that there’s a lot more “there” there than anyone has publicly been willing to speculate.  Again, getting back to the KT McFarland stuff, and the people that followed her… My guess is that Mueller can prove the trump people KNEW the Russians were helping.  You don’t use ‘treason’ lightly, even if you walk it back.


  34. Trip says:

    @Willis Warren, I hope he can prove that. My worry consistently has been that Flynn turned on lower level accomplices, peers (his ex-partners, for example), and got the deal of a lifetime on sympathies of his past military service (or something like that, turning early, although not too far upward). That could piss off the judge in addition to the “I got duped into this plea (and my lie) by FBI agents” stunt. I keep hoping that his cooperation is the punch above to the Mercers, Trump, or others at the top of the ladder in the conspiracy. The judge was clearly outraged by the slap on the wrist for a person in such a high position of authority and trust betraying the country, (and yes, I think being a traitor, just not in any available legal-sense). Might he be challenging the level of cooperation already given vs. the justification for this gift-sentencing?

    It has always been a very curious circumstance, indeed, that Trump does not attack Flynn. Trump is loyal to no one, especially if it is a choice between saving his own ass or theirs. Is Trump getting particulars about Flynn’s cooperation via Whitaker, where he feels safe not condemning him as a “rat”? Hopefully, we will find out soon.

    I think the definition of treason is unfortunate in the times we live in vs the founding fathers’ time. The US has been in ongoing wars, proxy wars, backdoor arms deals perpetuating other wars, but they haven’t actually declared war for decades. By those standards you would mistakenly believe that the country has been at peace all of this time since WWII, but that is not the reality. Flynn clearly put the objectives of foreign states and his own greed before those of the US. There should be some crime in between agent and treason that expresses the serious nature of those acts, even if Flynn was permitted to plea below those charges for flipping.

  35. Willis Warren says:

    I don’t think the judge is mad about the Turkey stuff, personally.  Yeah, that’s wrong and shit, but his immediate reaction seems to me about a bigger crime, much bigger… like selling out the country to the Russians to win an election.  There’s probably enough in the redacted sections to put all that together.

    Lying to the FBI?  My guess is that Flynn didn’t think the FBI investigation would amount to anything because they’d bury it.  Comey would play ball, or Sessions would bury it, or whoever was gonna be AG.  If that’s the case, then the legal case for conspiracy is pretty solid.  He’s probably not confessed that part of it yet, though, which is why trump is kissing his ass.

    • Trip says:

      Yep, Sessions was supposed to be the “fix”. That’s why he received the most condemnation and wrath by Trump.

      Don’t forget this:
      Flynn texted partners about nuclear plan during inauguration, whistleblower says

      The whistleblower said Copson gushed that Trump’s inauguration was “the best day of my life” because it meant his company’s effort to create a U.S.-Russia energy partnership in the Middle East, which reportedly would have included more than two dozen nuclear plants in the region, was moving forward…

      How much did Trump know about this plan, and did he stand to make bank on it, too?


      • Willis Warren says:

        If there was a deal, he was gonna make money.  And this may be what yesterday’s Mueller victory was about….

      • viget says:


        So I sketched out a circular diagram on a post-it, because I’m beginning to wonder if the case in chief of ConFraudUS isn’t like a giant 4-team trade in baseball.  Country A gives something to B, which gives something to C, which gives something to D, which in turn repays country A.  Also, there are other side-reciprocal trades between A and C and D and B.  It’s confusing as hell, and I think we don’t know all the details, but I think we know who A,B,C and D are, and we know the general outlines of the quid pro quos between the them all.  I wonder if the whole story will ever emerge….

  36. Willis Warren says:

    Also, another thing I may only be interested in is the history going back with Kislyak in the 302.  If Marcy is right and Mueller puts this stuff in for a reason, that’s more significant than anyone is speculating.

  37. Cathy says:

    Thank you for the analytical discussion here, EW et al. It gives me hope that evidence-based critical thinking will come back in vogue in society at large (and if that is a bridge too far at least there are communities that anchor pattern recognition gifts to facts in evidence and strive to document their efforts in honesty and transparency).

  38. Alan says:


    Lawfare agrees with you that Judge Sullivan went off the rails.

    I’m not sure I agree with Lawfare–I think the judge saw an effort by the defendant to double-speak and felt the need to put a stop to it.  Lawfare seems to say that it was wrong of the judge to “bully” the defendant into delaying his sentencing, but the judge is not the criminal here–the defendant is, and he subverted justice once by committing the crime, and then attempted to subvert it again by making false accusations in his sentencing memo.  The judge had every right to respond.  As they say, don’t do the crime if you can’t pay the time.

    • Trip says:

      I’ll preface this by saying I lack objectivity (due to my own anger) and any experience in court, but I appreciated that the judge called him out on his bullshit, and that he felt there should be higher standards for someone in Flynn’s position, not lower ones. I also agreed with his opinion on Be-tray-us (Petraeus) getting away with a ridiculous slap on the wrist too. Look at the sentences the real people in this country must endure for much less egregious crimes. Justice is not blind.

      And people were cheering Flynn when he was entering court as if he is some modern day hero, WTF?

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I agree with bmaz and other commentators who think that what Sullivan has seen in ex parte and redacted materials might explain his anger at Flynn.

    I think, too, that Flynn’s attempt at cakeism had a great deal to do with it. Flynn tried to follow Trump’s twitter feed. In essence, he argued that a corrupt FBI and DoJ forced him to lie and cop a plea rather than face endless prosecution and costs. That’s a direct attack on the legitimacy of government and its system of justice, it’s the kind that Trump perpetrates daily.

    That’s a real plight for many poor defendants in the American criminal justice system, but one that does not apply to Flynn. It is also a variation on the stab-in-the-back legend from the First World War, used to explain to Germans the complex reasons they lost the war.

    Sullivan put Flynn under oath and forced him to put up or shut up. Flynn rapidly admitted defeat. He backtracked faster than Trump can break a promise. No, your honor, I did it, knowingly, intentionally, for money and power. I broke the law and should be punished. I’ll accept your judgment.

    I think there are at least two more reasons. One, Sullivan was appalled at Flynn’s crime.

    Flynn was not a private lobbyist who represented a foreign government, but refused to register that representation in order to hide it and to make it more effective by appearing to be disinterested. Flynn, however, was a high government official. He was at the top of the intelligence food chain after a largely stellar thirty year career in the military. And he committed crimes. He agreed to abuse his government’s power to make himself rich. Not unique, but rarely admitted and proven convincingly about so high a government figure.

    And, two, there’s a basic issue of justice. Flynn had grabbed for and taken the brass ring. He received all the benefits the world has to offer. He pissed them away to get rich quick. He helped others to do the same. It would make it tougher for every judge in America to mete out justice to the average defendant, if so public a figure as Flynn were to walk without a scold and a day in the stocks on the village green.

  40. Strawberry Fields says:

    @bmaz That media :) I don’t understand the law or the legal system so I tune in and pray/hope they dont mislead me because I’ll frankly never disprove it

    Random question, now that Guiliani’s comment that Trump Moscow Deal was never signed turned out to be false like too many of his claims, he has claimed that it doesnt matter what they say as long as they are not under oath, and that his goal is to basically just confuse the public to avoid impeachment, does this pattern have any legal repercussions or does misleading the public consistently not matter?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump must be in real trouble if Giuliani thinks his bad performance art is an effective defense strategy.  It would be so only if Trump committed a whole lot of crimes, only a few of which are known.

      • klynn says:

        When Russians and Russian entities have been charged with ConFraudUS and that ConFraudUS is Information Warfare according to Rosenstien, and then connections are made to POTUS regarding the operations…I would say real trouble!

      • MattyG says:

        @Earl  I must say that ever since you started to characterize Giuliani’s dissembling efforts as “performance art” a few days ago it’s been almost a delight to watch his standup routine now. We can imagine him perfecting the stumbling drunk monologue in front of the mirror, tweaking rambling non sequiters to greatest effect – perfecting the very art of ineptness – quite an accomplishment. No Spalding Gray by a long shot but the Guili show does distract from the general misery of this sad mess we’re in.

        After today’s report that a Trump signed LOI *does* in fact exist (as if we never knew it must) how great would it be if Guili publicly announced his resignation as counsel proclaiming “I can’t work under these conditions! I’m an Artist!”

  41. klynn says:

    Just thinking out loud and IANAL…I’ve been wondering, since a number of studies this past year have determined Russia committed acts of information warfare against the US during the election, if Sullivan was viewing the redacted documents through the lens of “info warfare=enemy”as opposed to “election meddling=adversary.” That may explain his level of anger and use of the “T” word.  Rod R made the linked statement for a reason. I need to check a timeline for all going on around Feb 16th, 2018 regarding OSC and Twitter guy.

    • klynn says:

      BTW I realize the link above of Rod R is about:

      Feb. 16, 2018: The special counsel charges 13 Russians and three Russian entities with conspiring to defraud the United States and interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

  42. HRHTish says:

    Coming out of my lurk space to ask:  Is anyone banking the court files from the Mueller investigation for easy access?  The Justice Dept. SCO’s website houses the indictments and plea deals, but I’m interested in the other filings, including court transcripts.  I think the Flynn hearing yesterday was bananas and would like to hold on to a transcript of what went down.  I’m weird that way.  Ideas?

  43. viget says:

    It seems as though Federal judges, due to their lifetime tenure status, are the ONLY ones any more who can stand for the rule of law and equal justice principles.  If the gov’t lawyers do it, they’re accused of partisan hackery or “witch hunts.”  But judges, you can’t really threaten with much, except impeachment, and that would cause quite an uproar.

    So I applaud Judge Sullivan for standing for what’s right and the rule of law.  Maybe he was a little too emotional doing it, but he’s doing what Mueller can’t do, yet needs to be done.  The criminals in this administration need to understand that their past (and likely ongoing) crimes and decisions have consequences.  The Constitution is not just a “piece of paper.”

  44. jonb says:

    Marcy, I know you previously have not thought highly of the alpha bank connections. In light of yesterdays rulings could they be the bank fighting subpoena.

  45. Trip says:

    Avattoir, here are your three stooges,
    via RS:
    Fox & Friends worries Flynn judge will invoke ‘death’ penalty: ‘You have a judge who goes off the deep end’

  46. harpie says:

    Same Judge Emmet Sullivan, today, via Mike Scarcella:

    8:17 AM – 19 Dec 2018 Big new ruling against Trump’s new asylum rules — from US District Judge Emmet Sullivan in DC:  / Judge Emmet Sullivan: “The Court orders the government to return to the United States the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported and to provide them with new credible fear determinations consistent with the immigration laws.” / Judge Sullivan in August ordered the US government to “turn that plane around” after learning a mother and daughter were removed as their case was unfolding: 


  47. Wackers says:

    This is obviously speculative, but if Judge Emmet Sullivan’s initial reaction was to raise the specter of treason why we expect him to calm down. How many cases come before him in his career will his initial reaction be that this amounts to treason.

    Judge Emmet Sullivan could just stew for 90 days and find it intolerable to give a slap on the wrist.

    Or do we expect some judical temperment to engage?

  48. HRHTish says:

    I want to thank Alan upthread for providing the links – reply function doesn’t work on this particular computer. I really liked this one even though it doesn’t have this week’s transcript (yet):

    From all the crazy attempts to file amicus briefs (one person? many persons?) on behalf of Flynn I can imagine Judge Sullivan is all too acquainted with the conspiracy fringe and their “fruit from a poisonous tree” and “hero was framed!” arguments. There was a period where attemps to file (denied) were made every few days. That had to be tiresome.

  49. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Poor disgraced 33 year hero of the Military Espionage Society Michael Flynn. No one in the media or ostensibly the society can figure out exactly how a trained, dedicated, decorated product of the Finest Military Force The World Has Ever Seen, went over to the dark side. Truly it is a mystery. However, the answer may be so simple that it is being overlooked. Marcy called out a single action by his lawyers, no doubt under the assumption that a decorated war hero needn’t submit to humiliation reserved for welfare recipients and other convicted felons. The request to modify widely accepted probation requirements could offer a valuable clue to the otherwise inexplicable Flynn metamorphosis:

    “We ask the Court to exercise its discretion by deleting conditions 2, 3, 6, and 7 of the standard conditions recommended under U.S.S.G. § 5B1.3(c). We also request that the Court conclude based on the Presentence Investigation Report that drug testing is not necessary, in accordance with U.S.S.G. § 5B1.3(a)(5) and 18 U.S.C. § 3563(a)(5)”.

    Drugs have altered some of the most amazing people I have ever known beyond recognition. Their actions become unpredictable, their circle of friends shrink and in some cases even their physical features changed. Their own family members had difficulty recognizing the characters inhabiting the bodies of their loved ones.
    People are affected differently by drugs, in some rare cases, able to stop using and recover from the effects of narcotics with cavalier ease. Some people are forever and irretrievably diminished.
    I hope that some of the press are keeping an eye on Flynn to see if he checks into a court approved, supervised, rehabilitation facility for “alcohol recovery” treatment. He is acting as much like a junkie as the man for whom he exhorted fervent crowds to chant “Lock her up”.

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