Lawyers for former national security adviser Michael Flynn told a judge Tuesday that they oppose releasing fully unredacted documents related to his sentencing for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.
The filing came in response to a request by The Washington Post, which has asked that the documents be fully unsealed, given that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has completed his investigation and published a report about his probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Prosecutors last week released versions of the documents that were less redacted than those originally filed as U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan prepared to sentence Flynn in December. They acknowledged that the conclusion of the investigation meant some information originally hidden from public view could now be revealed. They continued to shield some information, however, indicating releasing it would intrude on the privacy interests of people who have not been charged with crimes.
In their filing Tuesday, Flynn’s attorneys wrote they support continuing to keep some information sealed, arguing the redactions are “necessary” and “narrowly-tailored,” in particular to protect the privacy interests of people who submitted letters of support for Flynn in appeals to the judge for leniency in sentencing. They wrote that they took no position on the government’s filings but wanted redactions maintained in documents filed by the defense.
Sullivan has ordered that any transcripts that exist of recordings of Flynn’s communications with Russian officials that took place before Donald Trump took office be made public, as well as unredacted versions of portions of Mueller’s report dealing with Flynn. Both are supposed to be filed in court no later than May 31.
Neither Flynn’s attorneys nor prosecutors have addressed whether they object to those items becoming public.
Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017, asked Sullivan to sentence him to probation but no prison time for falsely telling the FBI during an interview in January 2017 that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration.
Mueller’s prosecutors did not object, citing Flynn’s extensive cooperation with their investigation. Sullivan, however, told Flynn at a hearing in December that he could not hide his “disgust” with Flynn’s actions, which also included acting as an unregistered agent of Turkey while advising Trump’s presidential campaign. Sullivan offered Flynn the opportunity to delay the sentencing, signaling that if he did not agree, Sullivan was likely to impose a sentence that included prison time.
Flynn then asked for a delay, promising to continue to cooperate with the government in an effort to lessen his sentence. He is expected to testify at the trial of his former business partner Bijan Kian in July. Kian has been charged with working as an unregistered agent of Turkey; he has pleaded not guilty.