After a wave of protest from Donald Trump and his supporters claiming that Trump’s fired former national security adviser — who has pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia — was actually innocent, a federal judge on Tuesday told Flynn that, “Arguably, you sold your country out,” CNN reported.
“I want to be frank with you, this crime is very serious,” United States District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan told Flynn in court. “Not only did you lie to the FBI, you lied to senior officials in the incoming administration. All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser to the President of the United States. That undermines everything this flag over here stands for.”
Flynn has admitted to, as The New York Times has reported, secretly accepting $600,000 to represent the government of Turkey, serving as a foreign agent even while he was serving as Trump’s national security adviser.
The judge asked prosecutors if Flynn could have been charged with treason, but prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, representing special counsel Robert Mueller said that prosecutors did not consider Flynn’s conduct treasonous, according to CNN.
Trump had earlier claimed that Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI by prosecutors even though the FBI “said he didn’t lie,” according to a Real Clear Politics citation of a Fox News interview with Trump, in which Trump claimed that the prosecution of Flynn was an attempt to “embarrass the President of the United States.”
Supporters of Trump went further, claiming that Flynn was somehow “entrapped” into lying to the FBI, as the Wall Street Journal wrote in a December 12 editorial titled “The Flynn Entrapment.”
“Of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s many targets, the most tragic may be former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The former three-star general pleaded guilty last year to a single count of lying to the FBI about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.,” the Journal editorial board wrote. “Now we learn from Mr. Flynn’s court filing to the sentencing judge that senior bureau officials acted in a way to set him up for the fall.”
But in court on Tuesday, Flynn directly contradicted the conspiracy theory alleging the so-called “set-up.” Flynn told Sullivan that “I was aware” that lying to the FBI was a criminal offense when he told his lies about conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Sullivan asked a lawyer for Flynn if he believed that the FBI had “entrapped” Flynn into lying about the Russia contacts. But the lawyer said that Flynn was not entrapped, according to reporting by the legal site Law And Crime.