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Spencer Hsu @hsu_spencer
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FOLLOW FOR MORE: Ex-Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has entered a federal courtroom to be sentenced for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian ambassador. President wished him "good luck." Via @mattzap, @CarolLeonnig and me
U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia has started the hearing.
Judge Sullivan> The case is in a very unique posture. … Everyone knows, I was not the judge who took the plea,...
So before I focus on sentencing issues, I need to focus on other issues... I want to focus on the plea first.
Judge requires Flynn to answer questions under oath, saying, "Mr. Flynn's brieifng concerned the court, as it raised issues that may affect or call into question his guilty plea, or at the very least his acceptance of responsibility....
Judge: "I cannot recall an instance of a court ever accepting a guilty plea from someone who did not maintain he was guilty, and I do not intend to start today."
Sullivan reminded Flynn that lying while under oath could get him into “more trouble,” then asked Flynn at the time of the Jan. 24, 2017, interview, “Were you not aware that lying to FBI investigators was a crime

“I was aware,”Flynn said..
Sullivan also led Flynn attorney Robert Kelner through a colloquy asking if it was the defense's contention that the FBI was legally obligated to remind Flynn that lying to the FBi is a federal crime, or that "Mr. Flynn was entrapped by the FBI."

"No, your honor," Kelner said.
Kelner also answered in the negative when asked by Sullivan if he contended that Flynn's rights were violated by the fact that no lawyer was present, that Flynn may have been dissuaded from a having lawyer present, at the Jan. 24, 2017 FBI interview...
.. or whether any misconduct by the FBI "raised any degree of doubt that Mr. Flynn intentionally lied to the FBI."

"No, your honor," Kelner said, adding that Flynn stood by his guilty plea.
Flynn concurred, after Sullivan said he was not trying to trick Flynn, but wanted to know if he wanted to postpone sentencing or reconsider his plea.
“I would like to proceed your honor,” Flynn said.
“Because you are guilty of this offense?” the judge said.
“Yes, your honor."
Judge Sullivan just read aloud to the court large portions of the six-page statement of offense that prosecutors and Flynn originally agreed formed the basis of the charge to which he pleaded guilty Dec. 1.
“This is a very serious offense -- a high-ranking senior official of the government, making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while on the physical premises of the White House,” Sullivan said, accenting every word, adding,...
“The court will also consider [the defendant’s] substantial assistance in several investigations," Judge Sullivan said.
Prosecutor Brandon Van Grack, asked if Flynn is still cooperating with the government by the court, answered, "It remains a possibility."
Still, Van Grack said the government moved to sentence Flynn now because it was ready to present to the government “the vast majority” of his cooperation, as well as the fruits of his cooperation.
Prosecutor Van Grack told the court that Flynn assisted – and could have been charged – in an indictment unsealed just Monday of two former business partners in federal court in Alexandria.
“The defendant provided substantial assistance to the attorneys in the Eastern District of Virginia in obtaining that charging document,” Van Grack said.
“I’m going to take into consideration the 33 years of military service and sacrifice. I’m going to take into consideration the substantial assistance to several investigations, but I’m also going to take into consideration the aggravating circumstances...
"The president’s national security advisor, you can’t minimize that,” Sullivan said, voice rising.
"So all along you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country, while serving as the National Security Advisor to the president of the United States!"
Court: “Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out!” Flynn said heatedly, swiveling from his chair to point to the flag behind his right shoulder.
“The court’s going to consider that. I cannot assure you, if you proceed today, you will not receive a sentennce of incarceration,” Sullivan said, I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense!"

Yes your honor,” Flynn said.
Sullivan asked Flynn if he would like a recess to consider a delay in sentencing if, for example he wanted the judge to consider further cooperation.

Flynn said yes. We are in recess until 12;30
Before the break, prosecutor Van Grack stood by the govt's request for sentence at low end of 0-6 mos. range under federal guidelines, including probation.
"A sentence below guidelines range warranted, period," he said, adding Flynn deserves credit for accepting responsibility.
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