Michael Flynn just fired his lawyers, signaling a possible shift in his legal strategy against Mueller

Michael FlynnMichael Flynn.Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

  • Former national security adviser Michael Flynn fired his defense lawyers and hired new counsel, according to a new court filing.
  • Flynn's former defense lawyers, Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony, were instrumental in securing a plea deal for him with the former special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • It's unclear what prompted Flynn's decision to dismiss his attorneys so close to his scheduled sentencing date, but the move could signal a shift in his legal strategy, which comes as many of Flynn's family members and allies are pushing him to take a more combative stance in the Russia probe.
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Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has fired the defense lawyers representing him in the FBI's Russia investigation, according to new court documents filed this week.

Flynn was being represented by defense attorneys Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony at the white-collar law firm Covington & Burling LLP.

The two lawyers submitted a motion to withdraw as Flynn's counsel on Thursday and said Flynn had notified them "he is terminating Covington & Burling LLP as his counsel and has already retained new counsel for this matter."

Kelner and Anthony declined to comment on the development.

It's unclear who Flynn's new attorneys are, but his decision to switch lawyers so close to his sentencing date could signal a shift in his legal strategy, which comes as many of Flynn's family members and allies are pushing him to take a more combative stance against the former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to one count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the US. He has been cooperating with the FBI since then, and prosecutors said in a sentencing memo last year that he had been substantially helpful in the Russia investigation as well as several other ongoing inquiries at the Justice Department.

Last month, it also surfaced that Flynn provided information to prosecutors about actions by President Donald Trump's lawyers and someone tied to Congress that may have affected his "willingness to cooperate" with the Russia investigation.

Flynn's conversations with Kislyak are broadly outlined in a redacted version of Mueller's report that was released to the public in April. But the full transcript of their calls is under seal, and a federal judge ordered Mueller's team last month to release the transcripts to the public. He also ordered the public release of the full, unredacted Mueller report.

Last week, prosecutors refused to release the transcripts, arguing that they are "not relying on any other recordings, of any person, for purposes of establishing the defendant's guilt or determining his sentencing, nor are there any other recordings that are part of the sentencing record."

On Wednesday, US District Judge Emmet Sullivan relented and backed off from demanding the transcripts be released.

Flynn is currently awaiting sentencing, and the next status report from his new lawyers and Justice Department lawyers is due on June 14.

Flynn was originally going to be sentenced in December, but the date was postponed after his lawyers said Flynn could cooperate further. The move came after Sullivan tore into the former national security adviser and retired general, accused him of selling out his country, and raised the prospect of treason. The judge later walked back his statements and said he was merely asking about treason, not implying that Flynn committed it.

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