A federal judge canceled sentencing for former national security adviser Michael Flynn amid his efforts to withdraw his guilty plea two years after admitting he lied to the FBI in a case that stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference.
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan on Monday ordered Flynn’s sentencing hearing, which was scheduled for February 27, to be canceled “until further order of the court.” He had given both Flynn and the Justice Department more time to submit filings on Flynn’s request to withdraw his guilty plea, including claims he received ineffective legal assistance from his former attorneys.
A new sentencing date has not yet been set, but a status report on Flynn’s motion to withdraw his plea is due February 20.
Flynn asked the court last month to allow him to withdraw his plea, a request that came two years after he pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with the then-Russian ambassador to the United States after the 2016 presidential election.
The FBI was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, though the probe was eventually handed off to Mueller and his team of investigators.
In his request filed January 14, Flynn’s lawyers said he wanted to withdraw his plea “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness and breach of the plea agreement.” He also accused federal prosecutors of refusing to “comply with … their constitutional, legal and ethical obligations.”
After Flynn admitted that he had lied to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, federal prosecutors requested he receive no jail time. But they did an about-face in early January, instead recommending up to six months in prison because of the “serious nature of the defendant’s offense, his apparent failure to accept responsibility, his failure to complete his cooperation in [the Virginia case] and the need to promote respect for the law and adequately deter such criminal conduct.”
Flynn’s plea agreement with Mueller’s team stipulated he cooperate in the Virginia case.
Last month, however, federal prosecutors appeared to soften their position on a punishment for Flynn. In a sentencing filing with the federal district court, the Justice Department said that while it believes a sentence of up to six months in prison is “appropriate and warranted” for Flynn, it would not oppose probation.
Flynn helped Mueller’s office on a slew of issues across 20 interviews, prosecutors said, and cited his extensive military service.