Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to President Donald Trump's administration and Congress contacted him in an effort to interfere in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, according to a filing unsealed in federal court Thursday.
The court filing from Mueller, who had been probing alleged ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow and whether the president himself obstructed the inquiry, is believed to be the first public revelation that a person connected to Capitol Hill allegedly attempted to impede the special counsel's investigation.
"The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the administration or Congress that could've affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation," the court papers say.
Flynn even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication, the court papers say.
Federal prosecutors did not identify any of the people who reached out to Flynn, but said they the special counsel's office was in some instances "unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant."
The filing noted Trump's personal lawyer had left a voicemail message for Flynn in late November 2017, shortly after Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with Trump, which mentioned the possibility of him cooperating with the government.
"[I]t wouldn't surprise me if you've gone on to make a deal with . . . the government," the attorney said in the voicemail message, according to Mueller. "[I]f . . . there's information that implicates the president, then we've got a national security issue . . . so, you know . . . we need some kind of heads up. Just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can . . . [R]emember what we've always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains."
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to a charge of lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the weeks before Trump took office. He faces up to six months in prison. A judge has yet to set a sentencing date.
Mueller's office had previously told the court that Flynn should receive little to no jail time, because he provided investigators with "substantial assistance" in the special counsel's investigation into Russian election interference.
Mueller wrapped up his investigation in March, concluding there was no proof Trump or a member of his campaign had colluded with Russia. The special counsel declined to make a judgment on whether Trump obstructed justice, although he identified ten episodes of possible obstruction by the president in his 448-page report.
Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein determined there was insufficient evidence to determine Trump obstructed justice.
Democrats believe Barr inappropriately concluded that the president had not obstructed justice, arguing his assessment is both incomplete and insufficient. Even some prosecutors who worked for Mueller claimed the attorney general did not adequately represent their findings, telling associates the report was more damning for Trump than Barr indicated.
Democrats have asked Barr to turn over an unredacted version of Mueller's report, as well as the report's underlying evidence, to conduct an obstruction of justice investigation into the president.
Barr has refused to produce the documents, and Democrats in Congress are prepared to hold him in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena this month to produce the materials.
The attorney general also advised Trump last week to assert executive privilege over Mueller's findings, warning Democrats that their demands were asking him to break the law.
There is no longer a functioning jail in the Capitol, but several rooms have been used at various times as detention cells, according to the Architect of the Capitol. The Capitol Police currently has holding facilities nearby that could be used if necessary.
More realistically, the feud between Barr and House Democrats is almost certainly heading to the courts where a judge could decide whether to force the Justice Department to turn over the material.