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WASHINGTON — Convicted former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn gave special counsel Robert Mueller a voicemail of someone attempting to dissuade him from cooperating with the Russia investigation.
And by May 31, Mueller will have to release the transcript, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
The revelation, which appeared in new, unredacted documents Thursday evening, sharpens the question of whether Trump or his allies attempted to obstruct Mueller’s probe. It’s also the first time — since the release of Mueller’s redacted final report in April — that a federal judge has ordered that once-secret information in the investigation be revealed to the public.
“The defendant informed the government of multiple instances from persons connected to the administration or Congress that could have affected both his unwillingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation,” according to the unredacted document released Thursday. “The defendant even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication.”
In some of those instances, Mueller’s team “was unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant,” prosecutors wrote. Mueller’s team has recommended Flynn not receive any jail time thanks to his assistance with their work.
Although the documents don’t specify who called Flynn, the Mueller report recounts an incident in which a lawyer for the president left Flynn’s lawyer a voicemail in November 2017, around the time Flynn decided to cooperate with Mueller.
“I understand your situation, but let me see if I can't state it in starker terms,” Trump’s lawyer said, according to the Mueller report. If “there's information that implicates the President, then we've got a national security issue,” the lawyer said. He added that “we need some kind of heads up.”
Trump’s lawyer also told Flynn’s attorney to remember “what we've always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains,” according to the report.
In addition to the voicemail, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered government prosecutors to release other sections of the Mueller report relating to Flynn’s conduct as well as transcripts of his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.
Mueller’s report included roughly a dozen incidents in which Trump may have obstructed justice, although he didn’t make a call on whether the president did, in fact, commit the criminal offense of obstruction. After the report’s release, hundreds of former prosecutors signed a letter asserting that if Trump weren’t the president, he likely would have been charged with a crime. But a standing Justice Department policy forbids indicting the president, a rule Mueller cited explicitly in his report.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations with former Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December 2016. At the time, the two men spoke about sanctions slapped on Russia by the Obama administration in response to Moscow’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The judge overseeing Flynn’s case hasn’t delivered a sentence yet.
Cover image: Retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn gestures as he arrives at Trump Tower, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)