Before last week’s sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn, Fox News hosts were nearly united in their belief that Judge Emmet Sullivan was an independent maverick who was going to exonerate Flynn and refuse to accept his guilty plea. When he did the exact opposite, they had to adjust on the fly, much to my amusement.
Let’s start with Jeanine Pirro, who was the most forceful in asserting that Sullivan would set the whole thing straight and restore Flynn to good standing while rebuking the FBI. She called Sullivan “a jurist unafraid of the swamp, a judge who has a track record of calling out prosecutorial misconduct, a man who does not tolerate injustice or abuse of power” and said that he would “throw out this guilty plea if he concludes the FBI intentionally interfered with their target Flynn’s constitutional right to counsel.” And once that happened, “the house of cards of Robert Mueller falls.” So how’d that work out for you, Jeanine?
On Hannity, the play was to spin up a new conspiracy theory. Sitting in for the eponymous host, Pirro said Sullivan “took an incredible left turn, right turn, and U-turn” in criticizing Flynn and asked Jarrett, “Where is this judge coming from?” Jarrett’s theory was that Sullivan “all but begged Flynn to withdraw his plea. And when Flynn refused to do so, there was this Jekyll Hyde transformation of Judge Emmet Sullivan and he began to lash out at Flynn.” Criminal defense attorney David Schoen agreed, saying that after Flynn refused to withdraw the plea, “Judge Sullivan was left with no place to go in a sense.”
Took a left turn? Only if you define left and right by whether one does everything Trump wants or not. Prosecutorial misconduct is something liberals are furious about and conservatives defend constantly — until it involves someone they support. Then they suddenly discover that there’s a problem, one they always ignore when it comes to everyday defendants (read: black people). But in this case, there was no prosecutorial misconduct. Their argument that the FBI should have warned him that lying to them was a crime is utterly ludicrous and laughable.
Lou Dobbs just blithely declared that Sullivan had joined “the Mueller witch hunt.” And Fox and Friends just ignored the whole thing, devoting less than five minutes to the issue. As usual, Pirro was the most unhinged of the bunch.