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Judge rejects Michael Flynn's attacks on the FBI, accuses his lawyers of plagiarism

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By Tom Winter and Rich Schapiro  with NBC News Politics
Image: Michael Flynn leaves federal court following his plea hearing
Michael Flynn leaves federal court following his plea hearing on Dec. 1, 2017 in Washington.   -   Copyright  Chip Somodevilla Getty Images file

A federal judge on Monday sharply rejected Michael Flynn's argument that he was targeted by politically motivated federal agents — and set a sentencing date of next month for President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.

Flynn's attorneys filed court papers in August accusing prosecutors of suppressing exculpatory evidence and alleging that he was targeted by federal investigators for "concocted and political purposes." Flynn's defense team argued that he was coerced into pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

But in a 92-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled against Flynn, offering a point by point rebuttal of his arguments to force prosecutors to release more documents.

"The court summarily disposes of Mr. Flynn's arguments that the FBI conducted an ambush interview for the purpose of trapping him into making false statements and that the government pressured him to enter a guilty plea," Sullivan wrote. "The record proves otherwise."

Sullivan added: "And it is undisputed that Mr. Flynn not only made those false statements to the FBI agents, but he also made the same false statements to the Vice President and senior White House officials, who, in turn, repeated Mr. Flynn's false statements to the American people on national television."

Sullivan also cited "ethical concerns" in Flynn's brief, saying his legal team "lifted verbatim portions from a source without attribution."

Sullivan set a sentencing date of Jan. 28.

Flynn's lawyers, led by Sidney Powell, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Flynn resigned as Trump's national security adviser just 24 days into the new administration.

He pleaded guilty in December 2017, admitting that he lied to the FBI four days into his job as White House national security adviser. Flynn falsely denied having two separate conversations during the Trump transition with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.

He was supposed to be sentenced in December of last year, but the hearing 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.

Flynn brought in a new team of lawyers led by Powell who mounted a vigorous attack on every aspect of the government's conduct in investigating and prosecuting him. Justice Department lawyers said in response that Flynn's lawyers relied on "conspiracy theories, demanding that the government engage in a fishing expedition for documents that could offer support for those theories."