In a surprise turn of events in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., lawyers for former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn accepted an offer from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to delay sentencing of the President's ex-aide, after the judge repeatedly criticized Flynn for lying to the FBI and acting as a foreign agent for the government of Turkey.
After getting Flynn to publicly admit in court that he had lied to FBI agents during an interview in the White House in January of 2017, Judge Sullivan ripped the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
"I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain for this criminal offense," Sullivan said, telling Flynn, "arguably, you sold your country out."
After a break which allowed Flynn to talk with his lawyers, the judge put off sentencing, and scheduled a status hearing for March, giving Flynn more time to cooperate with the Russia investigation and the Special Counsel.
Flynn had arrived for his sentencing with the Special Counsel recommending no time in prison for his crimes, but the judge seemed especially aggravated with a recent court filing made by Flynn's lawyers, which basically accused the FBI of malpractice in the January 24, 2017 interview of Flynn, leading to charges of false statements.
Sullivan labeled the charges a 'very serious offense,' even raising the issue of treason - but the Judge took that back after a court recess.
On the electronic court docket, the judge specifically said, "The Court Accepts The Defendant's Guilty Plea," erasing any question that Sullivan would toss the charges against Flynn.
Flynn can still cooperate with Mueller's office in a number of ways - charges were filed on Monday against Flynn's business partner for conspiracy and acting as an agent of the government of Turkey; but also in the broader Russia investigation as well - and with Congress.
"It will be important that Flynn also cooperate with our Committee and testify," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will head the House Intelligence Committee in 2019.
"The delay could increase Flynn’s cooperation," said lawyer and Trump critic Neal Katyal. "But it also could give Trump more months to float a pardon, and continue the game Trump was playing this morning in his tweet."
Before the sun came up on Tuesday, President Trump was tweeting about Flynn, and again denouncing the overall Mueller investigation.
"Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign," the President wrote.
"There was no Collusion!" he added.