Michael Flynn, the former Trump administration national security adviser who pleaded guilty to making false statements in a case brought by the special counsel, has retained special counsel critic Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor, as his new lawyer.
Flynn’s previous defense team at Covington & Burling withdrew last week, saying Flynn had terminated their service. Court filings in Washington did not give a reason. Flynn’s defense had been led by Covington partner Robert Kelner, who chairs the firm’s election and political law practice group.
Powell, who is based in Dallas, is a former Justice Department lawyer who has criticized members of Robert Mueller’s prosecution team. She is the author of the Enron-focused book titled “Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.” Powell served as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1978 through 1988 in Texas and in Virginia.
“I’m honored to be representing General Flynn and appreciate the trust of him and his family. He is going to continue to cooperate with the government in all pending matters,” Powell said in an email statement.
Powell had not yet entered a formal appearance Wednesday in Flynn’s case in Washington’s federal trial court. Kelner was not immediately reached for comment. The Hill earlier reported on Wednesday that Powell was representing Flynn.
Powell has appeared on Fox News shows and other conservative media outlets to argue that prosecutors at times have given Democrats “passes” and Republicans “are literally targeted and prosecuted and their lives destroyed on things that are even made up.”
Flynn has been “dragged … through living hell,” Powell said on a conservative radio show in December 2018. “He’s been just tortured for all this time.” She added: “Flynn would have cooperated with them from the get-go because that’s the kind of person he is. They didn’t have to threaten to indict him and indict other members of this family and treat him like a criminal to get his cooperation. He would have cooperated with them because he’s an honorable American.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to federal investigators about his contact with ex-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Flynn was the first former Trump administration official to be charged in Mueller’s investigation.
Flynn appeared in court in December in Washington for sentencing, but that hearing was delayed when the presiding judge, Emmet Sullivan, raised the specter of a possible prison sentence. Flynn’s lawyers agreed to the delay to allow Flynn to show further the extent of his cooperation with the special counsel’s prosecution team.
In court then, Sullivan expressed “disdain” about Flynn’s actions and questioned whether Flynn “sold out your country.”
“I’m going to be frank with you: This crime is very serious,” Sullivan said at the time, highlighting more than once how Flynn was a high-ranking official who lied to the FBI.
Prosecutors, lauding Flynn’s cooperation, have not recommended a prison sentence. Flynn’s “early cooperation was particularly valuable because he was one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight regarding events and issues under investigation by” Mueller.
Powell last year called Sullivan the “judicial hero” of her book on the Enron prosecution. Powell has praised the focus Sullivan put on prosecution ethics in the aftermath of the botched public-corruption case against the late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. Sullivan presided over the case against Stevens, which was mired amid claims of prosecutorial abuses and ultimately dismissed.