Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, of trafficking in conspiracy theories as part of his effort to force the government to turn over documents from the Russia probe.
Flynn, who cooperated in the special counsel investigation after pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, has taken an adversarial stance since hiring a new legal team in June.
In a court filing in late August, Flynn's attorneys accused prosecutors of suppressing exculpatory evidence and alleged that he was targeted by federal agents for "concocted and political purposes."
In a new motion, prosecutors offered a stinging response to Flynn's legal salvo.
"It is a fishing expedition in hopes of advancing conspiracy theories related to the U.S. government's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election," wrote the prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.
Among the Flynn claims the prosecutors rebut is the allegation that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said during the investigation, "First we f--- Flynn, then we f--- Trump."
Prosecutors said Flynn's lawyers first raised the claim in January 2018 and sourced it to an email from a news reporter. After the government debunked it, the new court papers say, the defense revived it last July and this time sourced it to a staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
"Once again, the government reviewed information and conducted interviews, and once again confirmed that the allegations were completely false," the prosecutors said.
Flynn's legal team continued to push the claim a third time despite being presented with evidence showing it to be false, the prosecutors said, and was now reviving it for a fourth time.
The prosecutors said of the 49 additional categories of information Flynn was seeking, the majority are "either irrelevant or seek information that has already been provided to him."
On Flynn's allegation that the special counsel's office manipulated or controlled the press, prosecutors said "the claim is divorced from facts and reality."
"The motion even attacks attorneys in the Special Counsel's Office who had no role in the criminal investigation of the defendant," the court papers say.
The prosecutors accuse Flynn's legal team of engaging in an effort to hinder the case.
"Since the beginning of their involvement, the defendant's new counsel have sought to get the charges dropped, professed their client's actual innocence, and perpetuated conspiracy theories, all while stating that the defendant does not intend to withdraw his guilty plea," the court papers say.
Flynn's new lead attorney, Sidney Powell, responded in a statement. "Conspiracy theories is label lynching to avoid engaging on the facts of an issue or truth someone knows they can't win," she said.
Flynn's sentencing looms amid the increasingly hostile relationship between his legal team and the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Flynn was supposed to be sentenced last December for lying to the FBI about his December 2016 conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
But that sentencing was abruptly halted after Flynn, facing a blistering rebuke from the judge and the prospect of a prison sentence, asked that he be allowed to continue cooperating in the hope of earning a light punishment.
His new sentencing date is Dec. 18.