Judge Rudolph Contreras, who took a guilty plea from former national security adviser Michael Flynn, has recused himself, leaving Flynn to face another judge. Judge Emmet Sullivan was selected to replace Contreras in the case, Politico reports.
Contreras is an appointee of former president Barack Obama, while Sullivan is an appointee of former president Bill Clinton. According to a court spokeswoman, the reassignment was due to Contreras’ recusal. Yet, the spokeswoman added that the court generally does not tell the reason that a judge begged off the case.
Flynn admitted that he had lied to FBI agents about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the president’s transition. He also admitted to lying to the Justice Department about his lobbying dealings related to Turkey.
Flynn was fired after serving only 24 days as a national security adviser in Trump’s administration. Court documents show that right before Trump’s inauguration Flynn had asked Kislyak to refrain from escalating the situation after Obama announced sanctions against Russia because of alleged election meddling.
Flynn’s guilty plea is the most dramatic development so far in Robert Mueller’s investigation into the alleged Russian interference with last year’s election and the possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russians. Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team.
The sentencing hearing for the former national security adviser has still not been scheduled.
Contreras told both sides to report on the status of the case by February 1, but Sullivan will decide whether to stick with that schedule. Sullivan used to serve as a judge on the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals and is known for overseeing the corruption trial of the late Senator Ted Stevens and assigning an outside lawyer to investigate the conduct of prosecutors in the case. They were accused of withholding evidence helpful to the defense, Politico reminds.