Attorneys for former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have informed President Donald Trump’s legal team that they can no longer discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 election campaign, multiple outlets reported Thursday.
The move could indicate that Flynn’s legal team either is cooperating with Mueller’s investigators or is negotiating to do so.
In large criminal investigations, defense lawyers routinely share information with each other. But it can become unethical to continue such communication if one of the potential targets is looking to negotiate a deal with prosecutors.
The Associated Press reported that a lawyer for Flynn communicated the decision to Trump’s legal team this week.
The decision was first reported by The New York Times, in a story that cited four anonymous sources. According to the Times, Trump’s attorneys have been bracing for Flynn to be indicted in recent weeks.
Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February after White House officials concluded that he had misled them about the nature of his contacts during the transition period with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
He was interviewed by the FBI in January about his communications with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. The deputy attorney general at the time, Sally Yates, soon advised White House officials that their public assertions that Flynn had not discussed sanctions with Kislyak were incorrect and that Flynn was therefore in a compromised position.
Flynn was facing a Justice Department investigation over his foreign business dealings even before Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May. Mueller has since inherited that investigation.
Flynn, a prominent Trump backer on the campaign trail, has been a key figure in Mueller’s probe and of particular interest to Trump. Former FBI Director James Comey, for instance, said that Trump encouraged him to end an FBI investigation into Flynn during a private Oval Office meeting in February.
Mueller announced his first charges in the investigation last month, including the guilty plea of a foreign-policy adviser to the campaign, George Papadopoulos, and the indictments of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and business associate Rick Gates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.