Judge puts no pressure on prosecutors to end Flynn’s cooperation
The federal judge who will sentence former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn put no pressure on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to wrap their investigation at a court hearing Tuesday morning, keeping Flynn in purgatory as he awaits his sentencing.
Judge Emmet Sullivan said he simply wanted to meet Flynn, his attorneys and prosecutors for the first time at the hearing the judge had called.
Another federal judge handled Flynn’s guilty plea hearing in December and then recused from the case, passing it to Sullivan. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his discussions with the then-Russian ambassador to the US during the presidential transition. He agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.
Prosecutors said last week they’re not ready to let Flynn’s case progress to sentencing, indicating that he’s still helping them with not-yet-public cases.
At the 13-minute court proceeding, Sullivan discussed with Flynn’s team how quickly they’d like to have sentencing happen once Flynn’s cooperation with Mueller’s office ends. Sullivan agreed a 60-day turnaround would work instead of the more typical 90 days.
“General Flynn is eager to proceed to sentencing when that is possible,” his attorney Robert Kelner told the judge. “General Flynn does want to bring this chapter of his life …”
“Everyone does,” Sullivan cut in.
Sullivan told both sides several times that he placed no pressure on them to wrap up quickly. Both sides must update the judge on a possible sentencing date in late August. They could also delay again. “If August 24 comes and you want more time, that’s fine with me,” Sullivan said.
Tuesday morning was the first time Flynn has appeared in court since his guilty plea last year. In concert with his former government roles, the tanned former Trump official wore a red tie and blue shirt and a rubber bracelet stamped with the American flag.
The in-court proceeding had no reflection of the intense partisan politics that’s developed around Flynn’s case — especially on Twitter as his family members have pleaded for contributions to his legal defense fund and others expressed doubt about the validity of his charge.
Outside the court Tuesday morning, protesters shouted “Lock Him Up,” while a handful of supporters held signs that said “Clear Flynn Now” and “You Are a Great American.”