A pair of legal filings suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office is almost-but-not-quite ready to set a sentencing date for former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn have prompted a federal judge to order Flynn and lawyers for both sides to make an unexpected trip to court next week.
The hearing set for next Tuesday would be the first court appearance for Flynn since last December, when the former Defense Intelligence Agency chief appeared in a packed courtroom to plead guilty to one felony count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., about his lobbying during the presidential transition on a United Nations resolution critical of Israel, and about his lobbying work favorable to the Turkish government.
It would also be the first hearing before the judge currently assigned to Flynn’s case, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan.
A few days after Flynn’s high-profile plea last year, the judge who accepted it — Rudolph Contreras — recused himself.
No official reason has ever been given by the court, but Contreras reportedly approved a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant related to the Trump-Russia investigation.
In addition, text messages exchanged between a top FBI agent later removed from that investigation, Peter Strzok, indicate that he was friendly with Contreras.
Sullivan’s order Monday setting the hearing followed a back and forth between lawyers in the case and the judge over scheduling the next steps for Flynn.