Attorney General Bill Barr and the Justice Department shockingly refused to obey an order from a federal judge on Friday by failing to turn over the transcript of a conversation between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The call, made during then president-elect Donald Trump’s transition to the White House, is apparently necessary for U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan to properly sentence Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with the Russians.
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The order also included a voicemail left by Trump’s former attorney John Dowd, who seemingly dangled a pardon to Flynn in exchange for his silence. Flynn would cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose report details the Flynn situation. Only some parts of it are redacted and the government is refusing to give the judge access to redacted parts involving Flynn as well.
On Thursday, Hayes explained the defiance further.
“Now, we also expected to finally see the transcript of that phone call, at least one of the phone calls that’s at the heart of the entire matter,” he said. “The phone call between Michael Flynn, when he’s the incoming National Security Adviser during the transition, and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn first got in trouble for lying to FBI agents about this very conversation. He pleaded guilty to lying about it. So everyone has wanted to know what the heck did they talk about.”
“But — and here’s where things got really strange today — despite the judge’s direct order, we do not have that transcript,” he continued. “The government, the Department of Justice, is ignoring the judge, declining to release it, saying only ‘the government further represents it is not relying on any of the recordings or any other person for purposes of establishing the defendant’s guilt or determining its sentence nor are there any other recordings that are part of the sentencing record.’”
Clearly, Trump and Barr have something they are desperate to keep hidden.
MSNBC legal analyst Carol Lam, who served as a judge, expressed utter disgust that the Justice Department would ignore an order from a federal judge and said this kind of refusal likely came from the top, which means Barr or even Trump himself.
“Chris, I hope that in the next few days we’re going to get a little more context around that because I was fairly flabbergasted when I read that response by the Justice Department,” she said. “When a federal judge says I want more information in order to sentence this individual, you give him the information.”
Lam went on to warn that this refusal may be laying the groundwork for Trump to claim executive privilege over the documents even though he was not president yet at the time the calls were made.
Here’s the video via MSNBC:
Barr is seriously making a lot of enemies right now in his desperate effort to protect Trump. He is already defying congressional subpoenas for the release of the full Mueller report and underlying materials presented to the grand jury. Now he is openly defying a federal judge, who could hold prosecutors in contempt and jail them for failing to comply.
This just raises more questions about what Barr and Trump are hiding from Congress and the American people. Because if they won’t even let a federal judge see the transcript and the Mueller report, it must be really bad.
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