The Russian Connection: Yes, There Are Tapes

On Thursday in a Washington DC courtroom, previously redacted documents from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team regarding the cooperation of former Trump Nation Security Adviser General (ret.) Michael Flynn.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him in an effort to interfere in the Russia probe, according to newly unredacted court papers filed Thursday.

The court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to mark the first public acknowledgement that a person connected to Capitol Hill was suspected of engaging in an attempt to impede the investigation into Russian election interference.

“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,” says the newly revealed section of a sentencing memo originally filed in December.

Flynn even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication, the court papers say.

Prosecutors did not identify any of the people who reached out to Flynn, but said the special counsel’s office was in some instances “unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant.”

While prosecutors didn’t identify any of the callers, we may soon find out who it is on those tapes. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, on Thursday, ordered the Department of Justice to make public the transcript of the Flynn voicemail, as well as transcripts of Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials. He also ordered that the actual tapes be released.

Tapes make a big difference, as they did in Watergate when Watergate committee majority counsel Sam Dash asked former deputy assistant to the president Alexander P. Butterfield this question:

“If one were, therefore, to reconstruct the conversations at any particular date,” Mr Dash asked, “what would be the best way to reconstruct these conversations, Mr. Butterfield, in the President’s Oval Office?”

“Well, in the obvious manner, Mr. Dash,” Mr. Butterfield answered. “To obtain the tape and play it.”

We know what happened after that.

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow shares new details from newly unsealed court documents in the Michael Flynn case which show new details about what help Flynn gave to prosecutors, including with the investigation of potential efforts to interfere with or obstruct the Mueller investigation. She further discusses the order by the Judge Sullivan, ordering the Flynn-related redactions in the Mueller report to be removed, even as the Trump administration continues to fight Congress to keep further details of the investigation concealed.

I can see a subpoena from the House Judicial Committee in Michael Flynn’s future.