On Thursday, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the public release of documents and transcripts relating to the special counsel’s case on Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser for President Trump, NBC News reports. Flynn, who also served on the transition team for Trump, pleaded guilty to one count of of lying to the FBI in December 2017.
The ruling that will release sealed records was in response to a filing by the Washington Post earlier this year which argued the public has a right to know what Michael Flynn’s role in the Mueller probe was. The judge has ordered that the transcript of the call between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador, the portions of the redacted Mueller report that relate to Flynn, and a transcript of a voice mail be made public. The transcripts must be provided on a court website by May 31, according to the ruling.
Prosecutors had already agreed to release some information prior to the ruling and the documents reveal that the White House engaged in a bid to obstruct the investigation by attempting to influence Flynn’s cooperation.
The newly released December 2018 filing which details Flynn’s cooperation for the judge states that Flynn provided prosecutors with a recording of a voice mail he received from the President’s attorney the night he withdrew from the joint defense agreement with the president and just days before his guilty plea. The Washington Post reports that the attorney who left the voice mail was John Dowd, personal attorney for Trump at the time.
Mueller wrote, “The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.” The memo continues, “The defendant even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication. In some of those instances, the SCO was unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant.”
From page 121 of the Muller report, the message from Dowd went, “I understand your situation but let me see if I can’t state it in starker terms. …[I]t wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with … the government. … [I]f… there’s information that implicates the President, then we’ve got a national security issue, … so, you know, … we need some kind of heads-up. Um,just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can. … [R]emember what we’ve always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains.”
Mueller’s team looked at Dowd’s message and the outreach of other Trump allies for obstruction but determined Trump’s intent to be inconclusive, noting the investigation was hampered by concerns of attorney-client privilege because many of the contacts were from members of Trump’s legal team.
The filing reveals the degree of cooperation Flynn provided, with the prosecution stating Flynn has assisted them with the Trump transition team’s interactions with Russia, WikiLeaks’ release of emails during the campaign and the President’s efforts to obstruct the investigation. A fourth area of assistance is redacted, however, Flynn also assisted with a case against his former lobbying partner, which the special counsel says is “likely to result in criminal charges”.
Mueller calls Flynn’s cooperation timely and said that his early cooperation likely encouraged other witnesses to be forthcoming and cooperate. The special counsel, who was appointed two years ago today, is recommending little to no jail time for Flynn because of his early and complete cooperation.
President Trump took to Twitter to rail about the investigation this morning, calling it treason, and to lament that he was not told about Flynn being under investigation.
While it is against Justice Department policy to reveal ongoing cases, CNN points out, President Obama warned Donald Trump against hiring Flynn shortly after the election as did Chris Christie. Then-press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed reports of the conversation between Obama and Trump, but blamed Obama and played down Trump’s role in hiring Flynn in spite of being warned about his vulnerabilities. Flynn himself informed the transition team about the investigation in January 2017.