/Amid cooperation bid, Flynn messaged top Mueller critic in Congress

Amid cooperation bid, Flynn messaged top Mueller critic in Congress

Michael Flynn

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn urged vocal Mueller critic Rep. Matt Gaetz to “keep the pressure on” after entering a cooperation agreement with Mueller. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Just months into a cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller, former national security adviser Michael Flynn sent an unsolicited text message to one of President Donald Trump’s top allies in Congress, urging him to “keep the pressure on.”

“You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now,” Flynn wrote to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the Mueller investigation. “Keep the pressure on.”

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POLITICO confirmed the details of the exchange, first reported by CNN, which came in April 2018, just five months into Flynn’s cooperation agreement with Mueller. Flynn began assisting Mueller’s probe after a Dec. 1, 2017 guilty plea on charges that he made false statements to the FBI about contacts with Russia’s ambassador.

Flynn sent Gaetz a separate set of messages on Feb. 14, 2019, the day Attorney General William Barr was confirmed: images of a bald eagle and an American flag. Gaetz confirmed the substance of the messages and said he didn’t reply. He also emphasized he had no past relationship with Flynn or his son, Michael Flynn Jr.

It’s unclear if Mueller was aware of Flynn’s outreach to lawmakers, particularly to one of the special counsel’s top antagonists on Capitol Hill. It’s also unclear if Flynn sent messages to other lawmakers. Flynn’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The special counsel’s office declined to comment.

Flynn is still ostensibly cooperating with prosecutors, and his testimony is expected in the July trial of a former business partner charged as part of a scheme to lobby on behalf of Turkish officials seeking to take custody of a cleric who has been living in the United States.

A newly unsealed court filing Mueller submitted to a federal judge in December revealed that prosecutors believe at least one person “connected to” Congress made communications to Flynn or his attorneys that seemed geared toward limiting his cooperation with Mueller. The comments “could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation,” the special counsel wrote.

There’s no indication that Flynn’s outreach to Gaetz — which went unreciprocated — had anything to do with Mueller’s assertion.

Gaetz was an early and frequent critic of Mueller’s probe, and a regular guest on Fox News delivering broadsides against the investigation. He has also voiced his concerns with Mueller’s probe directly to Trump and embraced some of the most hot-blooded criticisms of Mueller.
Flynn faces a status update and possible sentencing in his case next month. He was due to be sentenced in December — with Mueller’s team endorsing a lenient sentence in the matter, praising his cooperation — but Flynn sought to postpone the decision after the judge, Emmett Sullivan, hinted he might recommend jail time.

“Arguably, you sold your country out,” Sullivan said to Flynn at the time.

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