Special counsel Robert Mueller will have to explain his request to defer sentencing former national security advisor-turned-cooperating government witness Michael Flynn at a hearing next week.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday called a July 10 status conference in the case, in Washington, D.C., and asked Flynn to attend in person.
The hearing comes after Mueller and Flynn’s attorneys on Friday filed a joint request to postpone the sentencing, saying “the parties do not believe this matter is ready to be scheduled at this time.” They told Sullivan that he could proceed with a pre-sentencing investigation, but asked him not to set a specific hearing date yet.
The request marked the third time lawyers have asked to defer sentencing in Flynn’s case.
In response to their filing, Sullivan asked the parties to explain why he should diverge from his typical sentencing routine. Specifically, he asked why “the Court should expand the Probation Office’s resources and depart from the Court’s usual practice of ordering a presentence report, scheduling a sentencing date, and establishing a sentencing briefing schedule at the same time.”
In their response, filed Monday, Mueller and Flynn’s lawyers said they were simply trying to handle the process expeditiously but would accept whatever process the court preferred. This explanation was insufficient for Sullivan, who called on them to appear in his courtroom.
The repeated sentencing deferrals suggests that Flynn is still providing information valuable to Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.
Sentencing is moving forward for two other cooperating witnesses in the Russia probe. Former campaign aide George Papadopoulos is set to be sentenced on Sept. 7, and Richard Pinedo, a California man charged with identity fraud, will be sentenced this fall.