Defense attorneys for former national security adviser Michael Flynn want federal prosecutors to be held in contempt, accusing them of withholding some of the most significant documents and audio recordings related to his criminal charge and the Mueller investigation.
Flynn’s lawyers, in a court filing Friday afternoon, lean heavily into the conspiracy theories of investigators’ misconduct that have fueled right-wing criticism of the Mueller probe. The filing says prosecutors suppressed evidence and also highlights contacts that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had with Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr.
Prosecutors maintain they have given Flynn the records he is entitled too. And Flynn has said under oath in court that he accepted responsibility for his crime. No right-wing theories of Mueller-prosecutor misconduct have been substantiated.
The accusation highlights the growing fissure between Flynn’s counsel and prosecutors as he heads toward his sentencing. For a year and a half prior to this summer, Flynn, being advised by other lawyers, had been one of Mueller’s most helpful and dutiful cooperators.
But Flynn’s new legal team has apparently seized on discussing the evidence as a way to stand at odds with prosecutors who cut his deal. Outside of court, his attorney Sidney Powell regularly promotes the idea that Flynn was entrapped by the Russia investigators and should be pardoned by President Donald Trump.
Friday, Flynn’s legal team took it up a notch.
“They affirmatively suppressed evidence … that destroyed the credibility of their primary witness, impugned their entire case against Mr. Flynn, while at the same time putting excruciating pressure on him to enter his guilty plea and manipulating or controlling the press to their advantage to extort that plea,” Flynn’s legal team wrote. “Nothing will force the government to take its obligations seriously until individual prosecutors are held to account with findings of contempt and dismissals of prosecutions.”
Flynn’s defense lawyers described their doubt that the Justice Department has turned over all necessary evidence to Flynn for his criminal case.
That includes, Flynn argued in a separate filing, “transcripts and audio recordings of the phone calls that underpin the charges against Mr. Flynn” and the original or first draft of the FBI memo of Flynn’s January 24, 2017, interview with agents in the White House, in which he lied about his phone conversations with the then-Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the Trump presidential transition.
Flynn’s attorneys also say the Strzok-Page text messages should have been turned over, among other things.
Page and Strzok were FBI employees until 2018, when they departed amid a firestorm of anger from conservatives over their anti-Trump text messages. Strzok sued the FBI earlier this month, claiming his firing was politically motivated.
Ohr is a Justice Department employee who had a long-standing professional relationship with Christopher Steele, the retired British spy who compiled a dossier of memos alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Ohr shared some of Steele’s work with federal law enforcement before the 2016 election – Trump allies say this is proof of a wider conspiracy within the Justice Department to undermine Trump.
Prosecutors say Flynn could be sentenced in October or November. They told Judge Emmet Sullivan on Friday that they’ve given Flynn all the documents they have – FBI memos and notes – from the January 2017 interview. (A redacted version of that FBI memo, two other FBI notes about their interactions with Flynn and a few other central records in the case about his cooperation have also previously been made public in his court record.)
Sullivan has scheduled a hearing for September 10.
Flynn is asking for as much as 90 days until they give the court another update on when he should be sentenced.
How the defense team hopes to resolve his case in court by further angering prosecutors who previously supported Flynn receiving little to no jail time and by playing to a judge who responded harshly to his crime and to a court filing that nodded to political conspiracy still isn’t clear.
At Flynn’s request, Sullivan had delayed giving a sentence so Flynn could continue helping prosecutors in the trial against his lobbying partner, which took place earlier this summer. He was not called to testify after prosecutors said they couldn’t depend on what he’d say on the stand. The lobbying partner, Bijan Kian, was convicted.