Flynn Voicemail Set for Release as Influence Attempts Disclosed
(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. judge ordered prosecutors to make public a transcript of a voicemail from someone trying dissuade former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn from fully cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Handed over to Mueller’s team during the probe, the message was one of several in which Flynn or his lawyers were contacted by people linked to the Trump administration and Congress, according to court papers made public Thursday.
Flynn told the government about a number of contacts “that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of his cooperation,” U.S. Attorneys Brandon Van Grack and Zainab Ahmad said in an unsealed filing prepared for Flynn’s sentencing last December.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. But the retired general agreed to put off the sentencing after U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan pointed out he wouldn’t get the full benefit of his cooperation with the government, since he hadn’t finished doing so. A new sentencing date hasn’t been set.
On Thursday, Sullivan ordered transcripts of the phone message and of Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials to be posted on the court’s publicly-available electronic docket by May 31. He also ordered that unredacted portions of the Mueller report related to Flynn be handed over to him.
The voicemail transcript could illuminate parts of Mueller’s final report addressing whether Trump or his lawyers tried to obstruct the special counsel’s investigation. After Flynn began cooperating with Mueller, the president’s personal lawyer left a message for Flynn’s attorney reminding them of President Donald Trump’s “warm feelings” toward him, according to the report released last month. It’s not clear whether that message and the voicemail ordered to be made public are the same, or different, calls.
Trump claimed on Friday that he was unaware his original national security adviser, who was fired after just three weeks on the job, was under scrutiny. “Why was I not told so that I could make a change?," he said on Twitter.
But President Barack Obama had warned Trump to not hire Flynn in an Oval Office meeting just two days after the November 2016 election and weeks before Trump took office. That conversation was confirmed in May 2017 by Trump’s now-former press secretary, Sean Spicer. Obama had fired Flynn when the former general led the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Mueller wrapped up his nearly two-year probe in March, concluding that there was insufficient evidence to determine Trump’s campaign had illegally collaborated with Russians who had interfered in the election. The special counsel declined to draw a conclusion on whether the president himself attempted to obstruct the investigation, deferring to Congress for further action on that issue.
Flynn, the one-time Trump administration aide, will likely testify against his former business partner, Bijan Rafkiekian, at an illegal lobbying trial set for July 15 in Alexandria, Virginia.
The case is U.S. v. Flynn, 17-cr-232, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.