Mueller Is Not Ready for Michael Flynn’s Sentencing Yet

I had kind of forgotten about Michael Flynn and his guilty plea, but the gears of justice keep turning. He’s required to appear in court next Tuesday for a little conference where the parties will discuss pre-sentencing issues, including conditions of any probation. Not much was revealed in the legal filings on this meeting, but we do know that it’s being called off because both the prosecutors and the defense have agreed that the time for sentencing is not yet ripe:

In a required, written status report last Friday, both sides in the case said: “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.”

However, the prosecution and the defense said they wanted the court to begin preparation of a pre-sentencing report that a probation officer readies before any sentencing hearing.

That request led [U.S. District Court Judge Emmet] Sullivan to ask both sides to file a new statement about why the report should be ordered up without the usual procedure of setting a sentencing hearing at the same time.

The repeated delays in Flynn’s sentencing have led to speculation that prosecutors believe his testimony could be useful at some future trial, or that the sentencing process might disclose some aspect of the investigation that Mueller still wishes to keep secret. Some Flynn allies have even suggested he might seek to withdraw his plea, although his lawyers have given no indication of that.

The new submission Monday morning didn’t shed much light on Flynn’s role in Mueller’s investigation or why sentencing the retired Army general now would be problematic.

“Although this matter is not ready for sentencing, the parties intend to request that a sentencing hearing be scheduled promptly once the matter becomes ready for sentencing,” prosecutors and defense attorneys wrote in their joint filing. “The parties believed this approach would put the Court in a position to schedule a sentencing hearing, if the Court were to so choose, on a more expedited schedule at such time as the matter becomes ready for sentencing.”

It looks like the prosecutors will recommend six months of prison time at the most, although the judge is not bound by that. This was a required status update, so there may be nothing particularly meaningful about the timing here. It does look like there’s some reason why the prosecution wants to keep their cards close to their vest however. It’s hard to envision how Flynn could be getting off so lightly if he isn’t offering some pretty substantial evidence in the furtherance of the investigation.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.