Special Counsel in Trump-Russia probe asks to launch sentencing process for Michael Flynn

The former National Security Advisor pleaded guilty in December to lying to FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak

Spencer S. Hsu
Saturday 30 June 2018 16:55 BST
Michael Flynn resigned from his White House post in February 2017 over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with Sergey Kislyak
Michael Flynn resigned from his White House post in February 2017 over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with Sergey Kislyak (Getty Images / Pool / Pool)

US prosecution lawyers for Michael Flynn asked a federal judge on Friday to begin the process of preparing to sentence President Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor, but said it still was premature to seek a sentencing date in special counsel Robert Mueller III's ongoing investigation.

Mr Flynn pleaded guilty in December to lying to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, becoming one of the first Trump associates to cooperate and the highest-ranking official charged in Mr Mueller's ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Due to the status of the special counsel's investigation, the parties do not believe that this matter is ready to be scheduled for a sentencing hearing at this time,” prosecutor Brandon Van Grack and Mr Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner wrote.

They asked to update the court on 24 August.

Mueller's office for months has sought to question the president about events that led to his decisions to oust Mr Flynn and FBI director James Comey, including scrutinising possible efforts by the president or others to impede the special counsel's probe, the Washington Post has reported.

In a joint court filing on Friday, neither party gave any sign of the state of talks with the president's lawyers, but asked the judge to refer Mr Flynn's case to US probation officials to prepare a pre-sentencing report - the first step to bringing his case to a close.

The pre-sentencing report is an investigation into whether a person's background may warrant a harsher or more lenient sentence, takes 70 to 90 days to prepare, and is a necessary step in the federal system before sentencing. However, prosecutors are not required to set a sentencing date even after the report is complete.

The Flynn filing came one day after Mueller's office and two other cooperating defendants charged last year advanced towards sentencing. A judge Thursday set a hearing on 7 September for George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.

The special counsel's office and defence lawyers also requested sentencing on 17 September for Richard Pinedo, a Californian man whose guilty plea was announced in February in connection with a Russian Internet trolling operation whose alleged members were charged in a broader indictment.

Mr Flynn resigned from his top White House post in February 2017 after the White House said that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about his contacts with Mr Kislyak.

Mr Flynn's plea revealed that he was in touch with senior Trump transition officials before and after his communications with the ambassador. The pre-inauguration communications with Mr Kislyak involved efforts to blunt Obama administration policy decisions on sanctions on Russia and a UN resolution on Israel - potential violations of a rarely enforced law.

Washington Post

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