U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the release of an audio file Thursday of a phone call President Donald Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd made to fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn‘s counsel in November 2017.
Sullivan instructed the court clerk to make the audio of the voicemail part of the public docket after ordering a transcript of the voicemail to be released to the public late last month. Dowd, who served as Trump’s personal attorney until his resignation in March 2018, was previously revealed to be the caller.
According to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Dowd left the voicemail after being informed by Flynn’s legal team that they could no longer share confidential information, as Flynn was withdrawing from the joint defense agreement. That night, Dowd called Flynn’s attorney Robert Kelner and left the voicemail. Kelner, it so happens, filed a motion to withdraw as Flynn’s lawyer on Thursday.
As Law&Crime reported earlier, Flynn fired defense attorneys Kelner and Stephen Anthony. In their motion to withdraw, they revealed that Flynn had terminated them.
“General Flynn has notified the undersigned counsel that he is terminating Covington & Burling LLP as his counsel and has already retained new counsel for this matter,” they said. “[W]ithdrawal at this time would not be prejudicial to any of the parties or otherwise inconsistent with the interests of justice.”
This hit a snag later in the day, however. Judge Sullivan denied the motion to withdraw after the attorneys failed to follow local court rules, dismissing the motion without prejudice. This means that Kelner and Anthony can try to withdraw again (if the motion were dismissed “with prejudice,” that would be a different story).
The audio file is under two minutes in length and includes Dowd asking Kelner for a “heads up” regarding whether Flynn intended to enter into a cooperation agreement with Mueller’s prosecution team, saying the request was “for the sake of protecting all of our interests.”
He concluded the message by reminding Kelner of the president’s affection for Flynn, saying, “[R]emember what we’ve always said about the President and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains.” He then thanked Kelner for listening.
Dowd was not pleased with the release of the original transcript of the voicemail, accusing Mueller’s team of manipulating the voicemail in order to “smear and damage the reputation of counsel and innocent people.”
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his contacts with former Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak in Dec. 2017. He is currently awaiting sentencing in Sullivan’s court.
[Image via George Frey/Getty Images]