President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, will face a different judge to be sentenced than the one who took Flynn’s guilty plea to a felony false statement charge last week, court records show.
Judge Emmet Sullivan was randomly assigned to take over the case from Judge Rudolph Contreras, according to an entry in the U.S. District Court docket Thursday.
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The reason for the change was not clear. Sometimes cases are reassigned to balance the dockets of various judges, but a change early in a case can indicate that the first judge recused himself or herself for some reason.
A court spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sullivan is an appointee of President Bill Clinton, while Contreras was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Flynn pleaded guilty last Friday to a false statement charge brought by prosecutors from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The retired Army lieutenant general and Defense Intelligence Agency director, who was fired after just 24 days as national security adviser in the Trump White House, admitted he lied to FBI agents about his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition and lied to the Justice Department about his lobbying dealings related to Turkey.
No sentencing date has been set for Flynn, who has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.
Contreras had told both sides to report on the status of the case by Feb. 1. It will now be up to Sullivan to decide whether to stick with that schedule or set a new one.
Sullivan is best known for overseeing the corruption trial of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and then assigning an outside lawyer to investigate the conduct of prosecutors in the case who were accused of withholding evidence helpful to the defense. Sullivan previously served as a judge on the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals.