Sullivan chewed out Flynn for lying "in the White House! In the West Wing!"
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his meeting with former Russian Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak during the period after the election but prior to Trump taking office.
"All along, you were an unregistered agent of a foreign country while serving as the national security advisor," Sullivan told Flynn. "Arguably that undermines everything that this flag over here stands for. Arguably you sold your country out."
"I'm not hiding my disgust, my disdain, for this criminal offense," Sullivan added.
The judge then asked the prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, who is a member of special counsel Robert Mueller's team, whether Flynn's behavior had risen to the "the level of treasonous activity."
Van Grack said that the prosecution had not considered charging Flynn with treason, a crime punishable by death.
— Dan Abrams (@danabrams) December 18, 2018
Sullivan then asked whether Flynn could have been charged with treason, but the government did not want to get into the issue.
Then, a recess was held. Less than an hour later, the judge returned to the courtroom and started walking his comments back.
"I'm not suggesting he committed treason," Sullivan said. "I felt terrible about that."
The judge said that he was mistaken when he stated that Flynn had acted as a foreign agent while working at the White House. In fact, Flynn stopped lobbying for Turkey in mid-November 2016. Nonetheless, Flynn's connections to Russia, which he was not employed by, have been the subject of far greater scrutiny.
Van Grack went on to say that he was confident that Flynn had not committed treason.
The judge also said that he never meant to suggest that Flynn had committed treason and that the parties should not "read too much into" his line of questioning from earlier.
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) December 18, 2018
The judge eventually decided to postpone Flynn's sentencing. As the retired three-star general exited the courthouse, prominent DC protester Claude Taylor chanted "Lock him up!" Taylor's giant, inflatable rat that is supposed to resemble Trump also got its share of media attention. He also posted a picture of resistance protester Bill Christeson holding a sign that read "More Russia Sanctions!"
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) December 18, 2018
Supporters of Flynn also demonstrated outside the DC courthouse.
Despite the judge being forced to walk back his rhetoric about treason, many a Twitter resistor jumped to conclusions prior to the court recess.
"Judge just asked if Flynn could be charged with treason. Mueller's team had no response. Which means the answer is likely yes," tweeted Scott Dworkin, co-founder of the Democratic Coalition, a resistance group that manages to be both "grassroots" and yet also "comprised of Democratic elected officials," according to its own statements.
— John Schindler (@20committee) December 18, 2018
Observer columnist and former National Security Agency intelligence analyst John Schindler, who once deleted all of his social media accounts after getting caught sending a picture of his penis to one of his followers, didn't spare himself further embarrassment on Tuesday.
"[The] game is on, my fellow Americans," Schindler tweeted. "[There's] no going back after this court session."
Things "just got real, folks," Schindler said.