A federal judge on Tuesday accepted a decision by U.S. prosecutors not to comply with his demand to make public transcripts of recorded conversations between former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States in December 2016.
In declining the judge’s order Friday, the Justice Department wrote that it did not rely on such recordings to establish Flynn’s guilt or determine a recommendation for his sentencing.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday posted a notice on the court’s electronic docketing system saying no further action was required by the government in response to his orders, without an explanation of his reasoning.
Sullivan last month had ordered the government, among other things, to release transcripts of all recordings of Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump’s first national security adviser before he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“On May 16, 2019, the Court issued multiple Minute Orders that ordered the government to file on the public docket certain materials and information,” Sullivan wrote in a one-paragraph notice. “Upon consideration of the government’s submissions in response to those orders, the government is not required to file any additional materials or information on the public docket pursuant to the Court’s Orders of May 16, 2019.”
Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying about contacts with Kislyak including discussions of sanctions on Russia, and agreed to cooperate in Robert S. Mueller III’s special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sullivan had not stated his reasons for requesting the transcripts. However, in December, he postponed Flynn’s scheduled sentencing after condemning the former three-star general’s actions and his lawyers’ characterization of his offense, saying, “Arguably, you sold your country out.”
Flynn’s interactions with Kislyak were described in Mueller’s report and in court documents, however the exact words the two men used have not been revealed. U.S. officials have not publicly confirmed the existence of the recordings, which are classified.
Two weeks ago, Sullivan ordered that the Justice Department make public transcripts of any audio recordings of Flynn, such as his conversations with Russian officials, provide a copy of all audio recordings to him in chambers and release an unredacted version of portions of Mueller’s final report dealing with Flynn.Prosecutors on Friday provided one item that Sullivan had also ordered released: a transcript of a voice mail left in November 2017 by a private attorney for Trump to a lawyer for Flynn after the former national security adviser began to cooperate with investigators. Most of the voice mail was quoted in Mueller’s report. Mueller scrutinized the message as part of his investigation into whether Trump sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.
Sullivan’s order came after The Washington Post filed a motion seeking the release of redacted and sealed documents in the case. The Post argued that the public deserved to know more about the Trump adviser’s role in key events and the information he shared with investigators.
In declining to release unredacted versions of Mueller’s report, prosecutors wrote that the “limited remaining redactions pertain to sourcing of information, such as references to grand jury subpoenas.”
Prosecutors did not elaborate, but suggested there was no basis for the judge’s demand for other recordings.