President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appeared in court on Tuesday. But the hearing didn’t provide a resolution to the military man’s legal battles, or additional information about his cooperation in the ongoing Russia probe.
Instead, today’s roughly 20-minute proceeding was more of a meet and greet between U.S. Federal Judge Emmitt Sullivan, Flynn, his defense attorneys, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. This was the first hearing Judge Sullivan presided over in the case since accepting the assignment, and Flynn’s first court appearance since last December when he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. Judge Sullivan said he called in lawyers for both sides as well as the defendant because he felt “a level of discomfort” preparing sentencing for someone he did not know.
A few demonstrators chanting “lock him up” greeted Flynn outside of the courthouse.
Pres. Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn arrives at DC courthouse to competing chants of "Lock him up!" and "We're with you, General Flynn!" https://t.co/1Cuv2j2DBO pic.twitter.com/Lg2kBLEjKT
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 10, 2018
The defendant appeared to be at ease. The retired three-star general did not speak during the entire proceeding but nodded to acknowledge some of the people in attendance. He was accompanied by his wife, Trish, and his attorney Robert Kelner who informed Judge Sullivan that Flynn is eager to “proceed with sentencing whenever possible.” He also added that the elements of the case were “not likely to change in any material way.”
But there has been no apparent rush by either legal team to reach a sentencing hearing. In the seven months since Flynn agreed to be a cooperating witness in Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, his sentencing has been delayed three times.
Last month, Mueller’s team and Flynn’s attorneys submitted a joint status asking the court for the latest delay. The filling states that because of the ongoing investigation, both parties “do not believe this matter is ready to be scheduled for a hearing at this time,” and that they would provide another joint status report on August 24th. However, this time they also requested that a probation office prepare a presentence investigation report for Flynn—a necessary step for federal sentencing, but one that’s typically completed after the date for a sentencing hearing is set.
Today, Judge Sullivan agreed to give the special counsel more time, but said he would not request the presentencing report until Mueller’s team indicated that they were prepared to proceed with sentencing. The judge also added that he would set sentencing for 60 days after Mueller’s team indicates they’re prepared to move forward, but so far investigators have provided no projected timeline.
While the delay in sentencing indicates that Flynn is still playing an active role in the special counsel’s investigation, today’s hearing did not provide insight about the nature of his role. Judge Sullivan gave all parties the opportunity to ask questions, but none did.
According to federal guidelines, Flynn could face up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI regarding back-channel conversations with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Trump administration’s transition. However, in light of his cooperation with investigators, he is unlikely to receive a sentence on the severe end of the scale and could avoid jail time altogether.
While Flynn awaits a final answer, he has a picked up a new job. ABC News confirmed reports on Tuesday that a new consulting firm, Stonington Global LLC, hired him as their Director of Global Strategy.
"The world is changing rapidly, and now is America’s moment to lead,” Flynn said in a statement. “I will work every day to put my over 33 years of experience in the defense, intelligence, and national security communities as well as serving Presidents of both parties in the White House to good use in helping companies and governments enhance the goals of freedom and liberty."
Prior to his return to the working world, sources close to Flynn say he had been spending time with his family in Rhode Island this summer.
“He's a beach nut. And he's playing a lot of golf with friends or occasionally surfing," one close Flynn confidant told ABC News on Monday.
In the months since he pleaded guilty, Flynn has largely remained outside of the spotlight—avoiding the media and even shutting down a conservative lobbyist’s unauthorized attempt to fundraise for his legal defense fund.
“He felt he needed to act as a soldier and has kept his mouth shut,” a source close to Flynn told ABC News. “He doesn’t want to be viewed as a whiner.”
However, Flynn did publically break his silence while campaigning for California congressional candidate Omar Navarro, a Republican vying for Maxine Waters’ seat.
“What I’m not here to do, is I’m not here to complain about who has done me wrong, or how unfair I’ve been treated or how unfair the entire process has been,” Flynn said while introducing Navarro. “You know what it is.”
Through the year and a half of political turmoil sparked by his 24-day term as national security adviser, Flynn has amassed a base of supporters who don’t believe he lied to FBI. Some friends and family members have used the hashtag #ClearFlynnNow as a way to build public support on social media.
But barring the submission of any new evidence, the closest Flynn may come to clearing his name is a presidential pardon. It is unclear whether Flynn or his legal team has asked for one, and unclear if President Donald Trump would grant one.
ABC News' James Gordon Meek and Trish Turner contributed to this report.