Robert Mueller and his band of 17 angry Democrats walked into a federal courthouse in Virginia and expected to rack up another easy win.
But they had no idea how wrong they were.
That’s because a Clinton appointed judge threw them a curve ball they never saw coming.
Tuesday was the day Judge Emmet Sullivan would sentence former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI.
In his request for leniency, Flynn’s lawyers made the explosive allegation that the FBI tricked Flynn into thinking he was not under investigation.
The agents who interviewed him, one of whom was the anti-Trump Deep State operative Peter Strzok, did not tell Flynn he could have his lawyer present nor that lying to the FBI was a crime.
Flynn’s lawyers compared this treatment to that of lawyer Alexander van der Zwaan, whom a judge sentenced to thirty days in prison after wrangling a guilty plea out of him for lying to the FBI.
“General Flynn’s case differs from that of Alexander van der Zwaan … a trained attorney who was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” Flynn’s statement read.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused the FBI of ambushing Flynn.
“The FBI broke every standard protocol that they have,” Sanders declared during a Fox News interview. “They threw FBI protocol out the window for one reason and one reason only ― because it was the Trump administration and they thought they could, and they thought they could get away with it.”
Some Trump supporters were hoping Judge Sullivan – who had requested Mueller turn over all documents relating to the FBI’s January 24, 2017 interview with Flynn – would throw out the guilty plea altogether.
But the hearing quickly went off the rails.
Judge Sullivan asked Flynn if the FBI mistreated him or if he knew lying to the FBI was a crime.
Flynn answered affirmative to both.
Judge Sullivan then proceeded to fly off the handle and berate Flynn in an unprofessional and – some critics would argue – an unethical manner.
“This is a very serious offense,” Judge Sullivan ranted. “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.”
The Judge continued attacking Flynn for his work of lobbying for the Turkish government during the 2016 campaign – work for which he did not properly register for as a foreign agent – and which was never treated as a criminal offense until Robert Mueller came along.
“All along you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security adviser of the president of the United States…Arguably that undermines everything that flag over here stands for. Arguably, you sold your country out.”
Then Judge Sullivan dropped the nuclear bomb.
The Clinton appointee looked at Flynn, who had served his country heroically and honorably in uniform for more than 40 years, and demanded to know if Mueller and his team had considered prosecuting Flynn for treason.
Judge Sullivan now asking whether Flynn could have been charged with treason (!).
Van Grack doesn't want to answer.
— Andrew Prokop (@awprokop) December 18, 2018
However, after a brief recess, Judge Sullivan realized he was way out over his skis.
Sullivan profusely apologized to Flynn and claimed he was merely asking questions, not firing off reckless accusations.
“I felt terrible about that,” Judge Sullivan stated. “I’m not suggesting he committed treason.”
But it was not all sunshine and rainbows for the Mueller team either.
Judge Sullivan turned a harsh gaze on the FBI for their conduct.
Sullivan demanded to know why the FBI interviewed Flynn in the first place.
The Judge wondered what crime the incoming National Security Advisor had committed by talking on the phone with the Russian ambassador.
Mueller’s Democrat attack dogs responded that Flynn may have violated the 1799 Logan Act.
Judge Sullivan laughed them out of his courtroom by noting that although the law has been on the books for 219 years, the government has yet to prosecute a single American under it.
Sullivan then asked Flynn if he wanted to delay his sentencing until his cooperation with the Special Counsel’s office ended.
Flynn answered that he would, and Sullivan set a new sentencing date for March.
Judge Sullivan knocked both sides off-stride in this case.
Flynn and his lawyers entered thinking they could get zero prison time or the guilty plea thrown out.
Instead, Judge Sullivan raged that Flynn engaged in treason.
But Mueller’s team couldn’t breathe any easier.
Sullivan noted on some of the very suspicious circumstances that the FBI had interviewed Flynn under.
We will keep you up to date on any new developments in this ongoing story.