Former National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Flynn in a January 29, 2020, filing declared he was innocent of lying to the FBI and asked to withdraw his guilty plea.
“I am innocent of this crime, and I request to withdraw my guilty plea,” he said in the filing.
In response to his filing — which was the first he has submitted on his own behalf in the case, prosecutors stood by their recommendation from January 7, 2020, of zero to six months of incarceration but added that they are not opposed to probation — a softening of stance.
Flynn explained in a 12-page motion that in December 2016, he was contacted by the Justice Department regarding his lobbying work related to Turkey. He said he hired experienced lawyers to handle it.
In January 2017, four days after he entered office as national security adviser, then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe called him and asked if he would meet with a couple of FBI agents at the White House, and he agreed.
He said during that meeting, “I did not lie to them. I believed I was honest to the best of my recollection at the time.”
He said after the “felonious leak” of his classified conversation with then-Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, he was “embarrassed and angered,” leading to his resignation.
He said in the meantime, he was not aware of any problems related to his lobbying work, but in August he was informed that a former business associate might be indicted.
He said there was sudden pressure on him in November 2017 to plead guilty to lying to the FBI and he was encouraged by his attorneys to conduct a proffer session with special counsel prosecutors. His attorneys then told him the session did not go well and said he was looking at 15 years in prison.
“They reiterated the threat of charges against me, my son, as well as the potential of a long-term prison sentence,” he said. He said his attorneys then guided him on what to say during a second proffer session. “I should have stood my ground firmly for what I knew to be the truth — that I did not lie to the agents,” Flynn wrote.
He said his attorneys encouraged him to plead guilty and take a plea deal, and that if he did not, he would be indicted, as well as possibly his son. He said he had seen reports that the FBI agents did not think he lied either, but his counsel still encouraged him to plead guilty.
He said after he signed the plea deal, he was told the special counsel would no longer pursue his son.
During a December 2018 hearing, he said he was caught off-guard by a plea colloquy where he was asked whether he wanted to withdraw his plea, seek independent counsel, or continue following his counsel’s advice. He said he was advised by his attorneys not to withdraw his plea.
He said in late spring 2019, his attorneys recommended he take “independent counsel,” and he terminated his relationship with them.
He concluded, “In truth, I never lied. My guilty plea has rankled me throughout this process, and while I allowed myself to succumb to the threats from the government to save my family, I believe I was grossly misled about what really happened.”
“As God as my witness, the truth is I am innocent of these charges and any other ‘criminal conduct,’ and I request to withdraw my plea of guilty, and I will fight to restore my good name,” he wrote.