Though Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the former national security adviser has still not been sentenced due to his cooperation with the Mueller investigation. But as the date draws near, three unexpected developments popped up on Thursday.
First, Flynn fired the legal team that had walked him through the past two years of proceedings and testimony, leading to speculation that he might be thinking about ditching his plea deal in favor of a presidential pardon. Then, prosecutors released a November 2017 voicemail from John Dowd, President Trump’s personal attorney at the time, in which Dowd pried Flynn’s lawyers about the discussions they were having with the special counsel.
To finish out Flynn’s news-heavy Thursday, interview notes released from senior FBI agent Peter Strzok revealed that a top Russian official attempted to schedule a video teleconference between Vladimir Putin and President Trump on the day after his inauguration. Strzok was informed of the potential call when he and another FBI agent interviewed Flynn in the first few weeks of the administration. Per Politico:
Flynn relayed that he’d gotten the request to arrange a Trump-Putin call from Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the U.S., when the two men spoke shortly after Christmas in 2016 as part of a broader conversation covering a range of issues important to the two countries.
U.S. and Russian officials have never confirmed that a conversation took place between Trump and Putin on Jan. 21, 2017, though the White House on Jan. 28 of that year offered a readout of a “congratulatory call” from the Russian leader that happened that day.
“The positive call was a significant start to improving the relationship between the United States and Russia that is in need of repair,” the White House said at the time, describing a conversation lasting about one hour and involving issues including Syria and fighting Islamic terrorism.
Peter Strzok, the FBI agent who interviewed Flynn, has become a lightning rod for conservative criticism after he was removed from the special counsel investigation when it emerged that he had criticized Trump in personal text messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair.