U.S: Flynn ceases communication with Trump’s legal team
In a move signaling possible cooperation with the government, lawyers for former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn have told President Donald Trump’s legal team they are no longer communicating with them about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.
Flynn’s legal team relayed the decision this week, said a person familiar with the move who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation. The New York Times first reported the decision.
The decision to cease communication with Trump’s legal team could be a sign Flynn is moving to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation or negotiate a deal for himself.
While Flynn’s lawyers had previously shared information with Trump’s team, the change does not necessarily indicate that Flynn is cooperating with Mueller.
Sharing information amongst defense lawyers is mostly considered routine in significant criminal investigations. However, it can become unethical to continue communication if one of the potential targets is looking to negotiate a deal with prosecutors.
Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, said that the decision to no more extensive share information “is not entirely unexpected” and shouldn’t be seen as an indication of cooperation.
“No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn cooperating against the President,” Sekulow added.
Robert Kelner, a lawyer for Flynn, declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., who has also come under investigation from Mueller’s prosecutors.
Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February after White House officials concluded that he had misled them about the nature of his contacts during the transition period with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
FBI agents interviewed Flynn in January about his communications with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Days later, Sally Yates, then acting attorney general, informed White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was in a compromised position and vulnerable to blackmail because of inaccurate public statements from the White House about Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak.
Flynn was facing a Justice Department investigation over his foreign business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to investigate potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller has since inherited that investigation.
Flynn, a prominent Trump backer in the campaign, has been a key figure in Mueller’s probe and of particular interest to Trump. Former FBI Director James Comey, for instance, said that Trump encouraged him to end an FBI investigation into Flynn during a private Oval Office meeting in February.
Mueller is currently conducting a special investigation to look into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The Times’ report Thursday comes just weeks after CNN reported Flynn was concerned about the potential legal exposure of his son, Michael Flynn Jr. in the investigation.
Interviews conducted by special counsel investigators have included questions about the business dealings of Flynn and his son such as their firm’s reporting of income from work overseas, two witnesses interviewed by the team previously told CNN.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires people acting as agents of foreign entities to publicly disclose their relationship with foreign countries or businesses and financial compensation for such work.
Former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates already face charges relating to their undisclosed foreign lobbying for Ukraine. They were indicted by Mueller’s grand jury last month. Both have pleaded not guilty.