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U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered his court on Thursday to release the audio of a voicemail message President Trump's personal lawyer John Dowd left for a lawyer for Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Nov. 22, 2017, after releasing the call's transcript last week.
At the time of the call, Flynn had already met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, and Dowd, who resigned last year, asked Flynn lawyer Robert Kelner to give Trump's legal team a "heads up" if Flynn was going to cooperate with Mueller or share information that "implicates" Trump, citing possible "national security issues" and "protecting all our interests." Dowd also reminded Flynn of Trump's enduring "feelings" for him. Mueller cited Dowd's call in his report, using it to underpin one of at least 10 instances of possible obstruction of justice.
Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller, and he is currently awaiting sentencing. On Thursday, however, his lawyers informed Sullivan that Flynn had fired them and retained new counsel. "Flynn's decision to change attorneys at this late stage is unusual and has triggered speculation in legal and political circles that he's considering backing out of his plea deal with the government in a play for a presidential pardon," Politico reports, adding that there could be other reasons, like money.
Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor and special counsel alumnus, called Flynn's move "a very foolish thing to do." The lawyers he just fired "had positioned him to get probation for a single count of false statements," Zeidenberg told Politico. "If he tries to withdraw his plea, he is going to get pummeled. Unless he has gotten some signals that he may get pardoned — always a possibility — this makes no sense." CNN has more analysis of the day's Flynn news below. Peter Weber