WASHINGTON (CN) – Critical of unexplained delays in the special prosecutor’s case, a federal judge proposed Tuesday that former national-security adviser Michael Flynn be sentenced in October for lying to the FBI.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan summoned Flynn and the government to court this morning after fielding what has been the second request for a 60-day delay in sentencing.
Though the request was filed jointly, defense lawyer Robert Kelner told the court today that Flynn is “eager” to proceed with sentencing.
An attorney with Covington & Burling, Kelner said prosecutors in the special counsel’s office indicated to his team that they were not ready to proceed with sentencing.
Back in December 2017, Flynn became the first senior White House official to cut a cooperation deal with special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
As he kicked off what would be a 20-minute hearing in Flynn’s case Tuesday, Judge Sullivan noted that neither the prosecution nor the defense team has explained why they are pushing to start preparing a presentencing report, which is ordinarily made when a sentencing date is set.
“I do have some concern about departing from the norm,” Sullivan said, calling it possible that the request would drain resources from the probation office, given a recent uptick in requests for criminal sentencing guideline calculations.
Kelner explained: “The facts are not likely to change in any significant way.”
“I don’t really have any reason to doubt what you’re saying,” Sullivan replied.
Brandon Van Grack, one of the prosecutors with the special counsel’s office, meanwhile kept mum about the government’s position at the hearing.
While Sullivan appeared agreeable to working with the parties on the presentencing report, he noted that he does not want to see the probation office go through the presentencing process twice.
Neither Kelner and Van Grack expressed opposition to a proposal by Sullivan that they set a sentencing date for 60 days out from Aug. 24, when the parties will say whether they’re ready to set a date so the probation office can have some certainty.
Per the judge’s instructions, Flynn was present for the morning hearing. Having taken on the case as a transfer, Judge Sullivan noted that he felt “a level of discomfort” with sentencing someone he’d not yet had the chance to meet.
Flynn chatted casually with his attorneys before the brief hearing started, at times smiling and laughing.
As he exited the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, protesters greeted the former Army general with chants of “lock him up,” the same rallying cry Flynn deployed against Hillary Clinton during the Republican National Convention, stoking criticism of the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server to conduct government business.
Among the protesters Tuesday was a Flynn supporter whose placards screamed, “Clear Flynn Now!” and “Gen. Flynn is a political prisoner.”
Flynn offered no comment to reporters.