One day after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s legal team made the bombshell allegation that the FBI had pushed him not to bring a lawyer to his fateful Jan. 24, 2017 interview with agents at the White House, the federal judge overseeing Flynn’s criminal case is demanding answers from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered Mueller late Wednesday to turn over all of the government’s documents and “memoranda” related to Flynn’s questioning. The extraordinary demand puts Mueller under the microscope, and sets a 3:00 p.m. EST Friday deadline for the special counsel’s office to produce the sensitive FBI documents.
Sullivan — who overturned the 2008 conviction of former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens after government misconduct came to light — is weighing how to sentence Flynn, who pleaded guilty to one count of lying to federal authorities during the 2017 interview in the West Wing. Flynn faced mounting legal bills that forced him to sell his home amid the prosecution, and Mueller has already recommended he receive no prison time.
The judge’s brief order states that Mueller can choose to file the materials under seal if necessary.
Sullivan also ordered the Flynn team to turn over the documents backing up its assertions. The judge could determine why the FBI apparently took a significantly more aggressive tack in handling the Flynn interview than it did during other similar matters, including the agency’s sit-downs with Hillary Clinton and ex-Trump adviser George Papadopoulos.
Flynn is set to be sentenced next Tuesday — but Sullivan’s move might delay that date, or lead to other dramatic and unexpected changes in the case. Sullivan even has the authority to toss Flynn’s guilty plea and the charge against him if he concludes that the FBI interfered with Flynn’s constitutional right to counsel, although he has given no indications that he intends to do so.