A federal judge on Thursday held a secret hearing in former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s case, where only Flynn’s side — and not the prosecutors — was present, according to a minute order later placed on the case’s docket.
The hearing was held after Flynn accused the government last Friday of withholding evidence in his case in a filing that claimed special counsel Robert Mueller’s team had engaged in “pernicious” conduct.
The filing asked that the judge hold the prosecutors in contempt for allegedly not meeting their discovery obligations. Flynn has also complained to the judge that the government won’t give his lawyers security clearances that they need to review documents related to the case, such as the transcript of his calls with Russian officials.
Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about those calls.
According to the minute order on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan told Flynn’s lawyers that he would first deal with the broader request that the government produce more evidence, before turning to the security clearance issue. The order suggests the hearing was called specifically in response to the security clearance request.
The dispute is the the latest sign that Flynn is taking a more antagonistic approach to the Justice Department, after cooperating with prosecutors for more than a year and a half.
Flynn’s move to shake up his legal team this summer — and hire a lawyer who has publicly criticized Mueller’s investigation — was interpreted by some observers as a sign that he’d seek a pardon from President Trump.
While the new lawyers have insisted Flynn’s cooperation was continuing, their relationship with prosecutors has apparently grown tense and those tensions have spilled out in public: Firstly, in a fiasco over his planned cooperation in the trial of his ex-business partner and, more recently, in a disagreement over whether Flynn’s case is ready to proceed to sentencing.
In their latest public filing, Flynn’s lawyers said that the prosecutors had “affirmatively suppressed evidence … that destroyed the credibility of their primary witness, impugned their entire case against Mr. Flynn, while at the same time putting excruciating pressure on him to enter his guilty plea and manipulating or controlling the press to their advantage to extort that plea.”
Much of the filing ranted about cases and scandals not directly linked to Flynn’s prosecution. It also invoked several figures who have become star players in the Russia probe conspiracy theories that have been pushed by Trump’s allies.
The crux of Flynn’s claims about improperly withheld evidence came down to the anti-Trump texts sent between two FBI officials later involved with the Russia probe.
Flynn said prosecutors’ failure to turn over the texts to Flynn was perhaps the “government’s most stunning suppression of evidence.”
A Mueller prosecutor apparently sent Flynn’s lawyers a link to the texts when they were made public last year, according to the filing.
Flynn also said Friday that he’d be filing under seal any accompanying motion that further discussed the evidence allegedly withheld.
The government has not publicly responded to the most recent allegations. But in its request last week to proceed to sentencing, the Justice Department said it had “exceeded its discovery and disclosure obligations in this matter.”