| May 31, 2019 04:41 PM
Updated May 31, 2019, 05:46 PM
The transcript of a voicemail recording President Trump’s legal representation left for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s lawyer on Nov. 22, 2017, was released by federal prosecutors on Friday.
It shows former Trump lawyer John Dowd asking for a “heads up” if Flynn knew information that “implicates” Trump after Flynn dropped from a joint defense agreement with the president and began cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Hey, Rob, uhm, this is John again. Uh, maybe, I-I-I-‘m-I’m sympathetic; I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t … state it in … starker terms,” the message to Rob Kelner said. “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.”
The release of the transcript, done so on day of the deadline, was part of a broader order by Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is overseeing Flynn’s case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia related to findings about the “significance and usefulness” of Flynn’s cooperation with the government.
Dowd resigned as Trump’s lead counsel for the Mueller investigation in March 2018.
The 448-page Mueller report, released last month with redactions, hints at the voicemail as part of a possible effort by Trump’s team to influence Flynn, who assisted Trump’s 2016 campaign and briefly served as national security adviser in 2017. “After Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the President and began cooperating with the government, the President’s personal counsel left a message for Flynn’s attorneys reminding them of the President’s warm feelings towards Flynn, which he said ‘still remains’, and asking for a ‘heads up’ if Flynn knew ‘information that implicates the President,'” Mueller’s report said. “When Flynn’s counsel reiterated that Flynn could no longer share information pursuant to a joint defense agreement, the President’s personal counsel said he would make sure that the President knew that Flynn’s actions reflected ‘hostility’ towards the President.'”
Dowd put out a statement after the release of the transcript in which he slammed Mueller for suggesting in his report that there was “an attempt by me to make them reconsider their position to cooperate.”
“This is clearly a baseless, political document designed to smear and damage the reputation of counsel and innocent people,” Dowd continued. He said Mueller’s report reflects that there is no conflict of interest, evidenced by Flynn’s cooperation with the special counsel’s team, and that Trump’s legal team cooperated by providing requested materials and testimony about Flynn.
Over the course of 19 interviews, Flynn “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,” Mueller wrote.
Mueller also said that Flynn gave “useful information” about discussions among Trump campaign officials about WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and provided “firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials.”
Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which were about sanctions during the transition before Trump took office, and reached a plea deal with Mueller’s team.
Flynn has yet to be sentenced and is still working with Justice Department prosecutors in a criminal case against Bijan Kian, his former lobbying partner who worked for the Turkish government. He faces up to five years in prison.
Mueller’s team was unable to establish criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia but declined to make a determination on whether the president attempted to obstruct justice. But Mueller laid out 10 scenarios of possible obstruction in his report, including some related to Flynn, which Democrats argue gives them a road map to continue to investigate and possibly seek impeachment. Attorney General William Barr said he and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was not sufficient evidence to establish a crime had occurred.
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