Michael Flynn probe draws opposite reactions from Fox News hosts ahead of sentencing hearing
Fox News hosts took conflicting sides Friday in the case surrounding Michael Flynn, President Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser awaiting sentencing for admittedly lying to FBI agents investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Shepard Smith ripped Fox News viewers for sounding off in Mr. Flynn’s defense, while Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson raised questions about the FBI probe that resulted in the three-star general pleading guilty to making false statements to federal investigators.
“I’ve been reading from some of you, ‘Flynn didn’t lie, stop it, stop it’,” Shepard Smith said during an afternoon television broadcast. “Find something defensible. That’s not it.”
“The president said he lied. The vice president said he lied. Special counsel Robert Mueller said he lied. The incoming press secretary said he lied. FBI said he lied. He lied,” said Mr. Smith. “Now we’ll see what happens.”
Mr. Hannity and Mr. Carlson raised concerns involving Mr. Flynn’s guilty plea, meanwhile.
“It doesn’t mean he really believes he’s lying. It means it was the plea deal that he took, probably because he couldn’t afford any more lawyers and was selling his house,” Mr. Hannity said during his syndicated radio program.
“He gave an untrue statement to the FBI about an entirely legal phone call he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, and that’s it.” Mr. Carlson said during his Fox News program Friday evening. “Mike Flynn did not collude with our enemies, he did not leak national security secrets, he didn’t even lie under oath. He simply claimed not to remember talking about a certain subject and the FBI didn’t believe him.”
A former member of Mr. Trump’s administration, election campaign and presidential transition team, Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty late last year to one count related to lying about his conversations with Mr. Kislyak. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 18.
Mr. Flynn admitted in his plea agreement to speaking with Mr. Kislyak during the presidential transition period about Russian sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, contrary to initially claiming otherwise to investigators and Vice President Mike Pence, among others.
He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his plea agreement, and Mr. Mueller said last week that his assistance has provided “substantial” help with respect to the special counsel’s investigation into alleged Russian election interference.
Mr. Trump previously said that he fired Mr. Flynn from his role as White House national security adviser in early 2017 after learning that he had lied to the FBI and Mr. Pence about his conversations with Mr. Kislyak.
“They want to scare everybody into making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smallest of misstatements. Sad!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter this week.