Judge orders Flynn attorneys to court next month

Judge orders Flynn attorneys to court next month
© Aaron Schwartz

A federal judge has ordered current and former attorneys for President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE’s onetime national security adviser Michael Flynn to appear in court at the end of August.

Judge Emmet Sullivan, the Obama appointee overseeing Flynn’s case in Washington, D.C., scheduled a status conference for 11 a.m. on Aug. 27 after Flynn’s new legal counsel said his former Covington & Burling attorneys had not turned over all of the files related to his case.

Sullivan also said he would invite a legal ethics official to the hearing to explain the applicable rules

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“In light of the representations made by defense counsel regarding the delay in receiving the client files, the Court hereby gives notice to the parties of the Court's intent to invite Senior Legal Ethics Counsel for the District of Columbia Bar to attend the status conference and explain on the record the applicable District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct,” Sullivan wrote in an order Tuesday.

In a filing on Thursday, Flynn’s new attorneys Jesse Binnall, Sidney Powell and William Hodes wrote that they “do not yet have the entire file” from Flynn’s former lawyers and said they had been advised “it will be several weeks before all the information can be transferred.”

Flynn’s attorneys also reiterated that they already have a “massive” amount of files to review — spanning four hard drives that exceed 253 gigabytes of documents — and noted they had identified “crucial and troubling issues that should concern any court” without going into detail.

Flynn’s former attorney Robert Kelner told The Hill in a statement: “Since the end of its representation of General Flynn six weeks ago, a team now consisting of 24 Covington lawyers has been collecting and transferring hundreds of thousands of documents to General Flynn's new counsel.  Covington has communicated extensively with his new counsel and prioritized the collection and transfer of files as directed by new counsel.  Key documents were transferred early in the process.  Covington currently expects to complete the transfer of the client file by July 26.

Powell took over as Flynn’s lead attorney after he abruptly fired his longtime Covington & Burling lawyers in early June. At a status conference later that month, Powell said she would need at least three months to prepare for his sentencing, citing the volume of information she needed to review.

Sullivan had asked Flynn’s attorneys and government prosecutors to file separate submissions last week explaining how the decision by prosecutors in Virginia to drop Flynn as a witness in the trial of his ex-business partner should impact his sentencing. 

Prosecutors in D.C. said they plan to “reassess” their position on Flynn’s sentence after the trial of Bijan Kian, his former partner, which is taking place in the Eastern District of Virginia this week. Flynn’s attorneys, meanwhile, argued the developments should have “no negative impact” on his sentencing.

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in December 2017 as part of a deal to cooperate in former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE’s Russia investigation. Mueller recommended he receive little to no jail time because of his substantial assistance.

He was supposed to be sentenced in December but opted to delay it to finish out his cooperation in connection with Kian’s foreign lobbying trial.

However, filings unsealed earlier this month suggested that Flynn’s cooperation with the government had taken a negative turn and that prosecutors believed he had walked back some of his statements, causing them to drop him as a witness. Flynn’s attorneys have insisted his statements have remained consistent.

Nevertheless, the developments could adversely impact Flynn’s efforts to convince the court he should avoid jail time and receive a probationary sentence.