A week after firing his old legal team, Michael Flynn has a new lawyer: Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor and an outspoken critic of not only Robert Mueller and his team, but of the Justice Department as a whole.
Speaking at a Cato Institute event in 2015 for her then-new book, “Licensed To Lie,” Powell referred to “the Office of Professional Responsibility, ironically named, within the Department of Justice, now ironically named.”
That phrase alludes to what may be a key reason Powell is now Flynn’s lawyer: She was referring, with that “ironic” line, to a grievance that she had filed against Andrew Weissman, who would go on to become Robert Mueller’s senior deputy on the Russia probe.
That opinion was formed long before Mueller’s probe began. “Licensed to Lie” focuses on prosecutorial misconduct in a series of high-profile white collar cases, including splinter cases related to the Enron scandal — namely, the prosecution of executives at the accounting firm Arthur Anderson as well as that of four Merrill Lynch executives involved in the Enron case — and the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).
Weissman led the Enron Task Force; Powell was involved in several related cases for the defense. The judge presiding over Flynn’s case, Emmet Sullivan, also presided over Stevens’, and as a result is consistently wary of prosecutorial misconduct. The Stevens case is now held up as a textbook example of withholding evidence and other prosecutorial violations.
In February, when Powell in an op-ed urged Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea, she called Sullivan “the judicial hero of my book.”
“Emmet Sullivan held federal prosecutors in contempt for failing to disclose evidence, dismissed the corrupted prosecution of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Department of Justice,” Powell wrote.
The book focuses on so-called “Brady violations,” or instances in which prosecutors improperly withhold evidence in their possession that could be helpful to the defense, and that the defense therefore has a legal right to see.
When Mueller was named special counsel, Powell was one of a number of lawyers and legal writers to turn their expertise into lucrative punditry careers, appearing frequently on conservative networks and writing for The Daily Caller and elsewhere.
Flynn, she’s said, had been the victim of his own Brady violation, because Mueller’s team refused to hand over an FBI agent’s handwritten notes from the interview in which Flynn’s perjury — to which he pleaded guilty in December 2017 — occurred. Powell wrote in December:
“The evidence indicates Mueller has destroyed or is suppressing Brady material. There was an original 302 [interview notes] created within five days — by FBI protocol — of the Jan. 24, 2016 ambush interview of General Flynn by two agents — Strzok and Special Agent Joe Pientka. It is mentioned in the Strzok-Page text messages and on page four of the recrafted 302 Mueller filed. Comey read the original 302 before he was fired.
It existed — as [Sen. Chuck] Grassley well knows. It was written by Agent Pientka, who also took extensive handwritten notes, whose name is redacted from Mueller’s filing, and who seems to have disappeared. Where are the original 302, his notes, and where is Agent Pientka? Grassley has been trying to get access to all three for almost two years.
With his sentencing looming before him, Flynn has turned to the ultimate skeptic of federal prosecutors, and the ultimate fan of the judge trying his case.