Michael Flynn's lawyer accuses feds of "egregious" misconduct ahead of sentencing

By Robert Legare

/ CBS News

What sparked the Mueller probe

Washington — Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, was back in federal court Tuesday, with his legal team accusing federal prosecutors of engaging in "egregious government misconduct" that warranted their dismissal from his case.

Tuesday's hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington was called after lawyers for both Flynn and the government said they could not agree whether the defendant was ready to be sentenced. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 as part of an agreement with former special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

Against the wishes of Flynn's attorney Sidney Powell, Judge Emmet Sullivan set a sentencing date for December 18, exactly a year after Sullivan first delayed Flynn's sentencing to allow for further cooperation with the government.

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Powell, an outspoken critic of Mueller who Flynn hired June, declared in court Tuesday that "there is far more at stake here than sentencing. As new counsel, we have an ethical obligation to review everything that has happened in the case."

The "everything" Powell mentioned has been a contentious subject since she took over Flynn's case. In two court filings last month, she leveled allegations of misconduct, manipulation and suppression of evidence against the prosecutors.

In court Tuesday, Powell continued to criticize the government's handling of its investigation into Flynn.

Michael Flynn, left, and attorney Sidney Powell in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. William J. Hennessy, Jr.

Resurrecting reports of potential misconduct committed by former FBI Director James Comey, fired FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, whom the lawyer characterized as "completely impaired by bias," Powell suggested her client was put at a legal disadvantage because of political differences.

Sullivan questioned whether these allegations meant Flynn wanted to withdraw his guilty plea, to which Powell answered that she was unsure what steps she would take in the future. She later commented, however, that "there never would have been a plea to begin with" had the government met its obligation to disclose evidence that is favorable to Flynn, adding to speculation that Flynn's legal team may formally attempt to get his guilty plea changed or have prosecutors dismissed from the case.

Brandon Van Grack, a federal prosecutor and former member of the special counsel's team, forcefully denied each of Powell's allegations and asserted that the government had previously given the defense all of the documents they have requested. These disagreements are to be discussed at a hearing scheduled for next month.

When asked if prosecutors planned to support last year's recommendation that Flynn has provided enough assistance to the government to avoid jail time, Van Grack simply told Sullivan that they planned to refile the memo, a possible hint that the government may also be looking to change legal strategy.

Tuesday's hearing came a day after Congressman Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent Flynn a letter demanding he comply with a subpoena to testify before Schiff's committee on September 25.

First published on September 10, 2019 / 5:18 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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