Trump hails Michael Flynn as "war hero" ahead of sentencing

By Emily Tillett, Clare Hymes

/ CBS News

As Michael Flynn continues to await sentencing for lying to federal investigators about his contacts with Russian officials, President Trump is hailing his former national security adviser as a "war hero." The president tweeted about the embattled former Army lieutenant general early Thursday, saying he had "served with distinction."

The president also bid the ex-administration official good luck as he's retained a new lawyer in his case. Flynn has hired frequent conservative pundit Sidney Powell as his new counsel as he awaits his sentencing hearing. Powell, a former Texas prosecutor, is an outspoken critic of Robert Mueller's Russia probe and the Department of Justice, most recently writing a book in which she criticizes the DOJ for its alleged use of "illegal and unethical tactics."

General Michael Flynn, the 33 year war hero who has served with distinction, has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER, Sidney Powell. Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019

"[Flynn] has not retained a good lawyer, he has retained a GREAT LAWYER, Sidney Powell. Best Wishes and Good Luck to them both!," Mr. Trump tweeted.

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Powell has also criticized Mueller's comments on possible obstruction claims, telling the Epoch Times last month that the mere suggestion of the DOJ bringing obstruction of justice charges against Mr. Trump was "absurd," and called Mueller's character as a prosecutor into question.

"I was taught that if you don't have a solid case, don't turn somebody's life upside down, literally ruin their lives and that of their families just because you want to try to notch your belt with somebody's scalp or get your name in the newspaper…unless they really committed a crime and you're sure they did it and they're the right person, don't bring charges against somebody," Powell said.

Flynn's lawyers, Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony from the firm Covington & Burling, informed the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. in a filing that their client terminated their services last week. They did not give a reason in their notice.

Powell's office confirmed the new hire in a statement, telling CBS News on Wednesday: "Attorney Powell is honored to represent General Flynn, and he will continue to cooperate with the government in all matters."

Flynn pleaded guilty last year, after which the special counsel's office released a memo arguing that Flynn should not be sentenced to prison because he had provided "substantial assistance" to its investigation.

First published on June 13, 2019 / 7:38 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Emily Tillett

Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital

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