June 3, 2019, 9:06 am CDT
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn/Photo from Shutterstock.com.
On Friday, federal prosecutors did not comply with a judge’s order to release transcripts of wiretaps between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016.
The government filing said only that it didn’t rely on those recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or to determine his sentence, report the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Law.com and Courthouse News Service.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI in the Russia probe about his interactions with the ambassador. Flynn has not yet been sentenced.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington, D.C., had ordered release of the materials. The unreleased transcripts were expected to show that Flynn discussed Russian sanctions imposed by the Obama administration during the transition, according to the New York Times.
The New York Times said Sullivan’s order “was unusual.” Former Department of Justice official Joshua Geltzer told the New York Times that it would be rare to make such information public. “What you see in today’s filing is the government trying to avoid disclosing that material,” he said.
Prosecutors did, however, release a voicemail transcript of Trump’s former private lawyer John Dowd asking a lawyer for Flynn to share any information that would implicate the president.
“Hey, Rob, uhm, this is John again,” Dowd said in the November 2017 voicemail to Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner. “Uh, maybe, … I’m sympathetic; I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t … state it in … starker terms. If you have … and it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with, and, uh, work with the government, uh … I understand that you can’t join the joint defense; so that’s one thing.
“If, on the other hand, we have, there’s information that … implicates the president, then we’ve got a national security issue, or maybe a national security issue, I don’t know … some issue, we got to—we got to deal with, not only for the president, but for the country. So … uh … you know, then-then, you know, we need some kind of heads-up. Um, just for the sake of … protecting all our interests, if we can, without you having to give up any … confidential information. So, uhm, and if it’s the former, then, you know, remember what we’ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains, but—well, in any event, uhm, let me know, and, uh, I appreciate your listening and taking the time. Thanks, pal.”
Dowd released a statement saying special counsel Robert Mueller never asked him about the voicemail, although he had many opportunities to do so. Dowd said there wasn’t anything improper about his contact with Kelner, and he didn’t discourage Flynn from cooperating with the government.