WASHINGTON — Prosecutors released audio on Thursday of a voice mail message that President Trump’s personal lawyer left for a lawyer for Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, shortly after Mr. Flynn agreed in 2017 to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation.
The message and its tone offer new insight into how Mr. Trump’s lawyer at the time, John Dowd, broached the prospect of a pardon for Mr. Flynn. The call occurred in November 2017, shortly after Mr. Flynn’s lawyers withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the president’s lawyers.
A transcript of Mr. Dowd’s call with Robert K. Kelner, Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, was included in the Mueller report, released in April. But the audio had remained secret until Thursday, when prosecutors turned it over in response to an order from a federal judge who is weighing how to sentence Mr. Flynn. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to making false statements to F.B.I. agents about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Mr. Dowd has said Mr. Mueller never asked him about the voice mail “despite numerous opportunities to do so,” and has called the special counsel’s report “a baseless, political document designed to smear and damage the reputation of counsel and innocent people.” Mr. Flynn fired Mr. Kelner as his lawyer, according to a court filing on Thursday.
The following is the transcript of the voice mail, as released by the Justice Department.
JOHN DOWD: Hey, Rob, uhm, this is John again. Uh, maybe, I-I-I’m-I’m sympathetic; I understand your situation, but let me see if I can’t … state it in … starker terms. If you have … and it wouldn’t surprise me if you’ve gone on to make a deal with, and, uh, work with the government, uh … I understand that you can’t join the joint defense; so that’s one thing. If, on the other hand, we have, there’s information that … implicates the president, then we’ve got a national security issue, or maybe a national security issue, I don’t know … some issue, we got to — we got to deal with, not only for the president, but for the country. So … uh … you know, then-then, you know, we need some kind of heads up. Um, just for the sake of … protecting all our interests, if we can, without you having to give up any … confidential information. So, uhm, and if it’s the former, then, you know, remember what we’ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and, that still remains, but — well, in any event, uhm, let me know, and, uh, I appreciate your listening and taking the time. Thanks, pal.