Judge Emmet Sullivan of the US District Court in DC gave the Department of Justice a Friday deadline to publish unhandled parts of the Muller report concerning Flynn, as well as transcriptions of Flynn's phone calls to former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and a voicemail which pointed out a connection to Trump on Flynn's cooperation.
Taken together, the judge's orders act as a shortcut to transparency at a moment when the executive is blocked.
Each of the documents, once released, could reveal Müller's work. The transcripts alone could answer the questions, what Flynn said to the Russians exactly what was so distressing to the US intelligence agencies, and how a message turned up that examined the obstruction of justice in President Donald Trump.
So far, the judiciary The department has not pushed back the demands of the judge. But it could deadline before the 31
Outside the Flynn case, the Department of Justice is fighting on several fronts to keep the edited parts of the Müller report out of the public eye.
What's in the Documents
The talks between Flynn and Kislyak during the change of president have so far only been summarized in court records and the Mueller report. Transcripts of them that may still be classified could expand the public's knowledge of a major event investigated by Müller.
Mueller instead used plenty of ellipses to quote from.
"[I] It would not surprise me if you were to conclude a deal with … the government … [I] f … there is information concerning the president, then we have a national one Security problem … well, you know … we need a kind of heads-up, "Müller quoted from the minutes in his report. 19659002] Theoretically, the transcripts could have come out in court if Flynn had filed his indictment of Müller against a lawsuit. His consent, however, prevented the broadcast of the evidence.
The edited parts of the Mueller Report were also closely guarded.
Regardless of this, BuzzFeed News and the transparency-oriented Electronic Privacy Information Center have sued the editors, but will not be tried in court until July.
Even the Washington Post, who had sued for other sealed documents in the Flynn case, had not asked for the transcripts or unedited Müller report sections relating to Flynn. They did not have the opportunity to ask the court for these particular documents, as the documents do not appear to be in the court records.
Judge Sullivan went there without being asked. There is also no indication that he has already seen the documents he has requested or has already placed under seal in the Flynn file, as is sometimes the case.
"He's familiar with rogues," said Brad Moss, a Washington lawyer who frequently sued the government for public access to documents. Because Sullivan can be so unpredictable to the lawyers practicing before him, "it's not necessarily surprising," Moss said. "I wish we had seen more of judges."
A Factual Judge
Sullivan has earned a factual and sometimes unpredictable reputation. Sullivan was first named a judge by President Ronald Reagan and charged by President Bill Clinton to the district court in Washington DC.
Since then he has handled several cases of public record transparency and many more cases of public concern. This includes the corruption case against the late Senator Ted Stevens, whose conviction was overturned by Sullivan following allegations of misconduct by prosecutors.
More recently, he has inflicted losses on the President in a Congressional lawsuit over Trump's business proceeds. The Ministry of Justice is trying to appeal.
When Sullivan oversaw the Flynn case, he has already made it clear that he will not tolerate Shenanigans.
Previously, he had set Flynn's conviction for December and turned on the former National Security Advisor for what should be his final appearance before a judge. But due to a dispute by Flynn's defense team about how his case differs from others found guilty in the Mueller investigation, Sullivan questioned Flynn's sincerity. The proceeding changed from a normal hearing of the accused, in which Sullivan asked if Flynn could be charged with high treason. (Muller's team told Sullivan no.)
Sullivan was so harsh at the hearing that Flynn's team called on the judge to postpone the conviction. Flynn had not applied for a jail sentence and the special agency said it was appropriate because of his cooperation.
At the end of the hearing, he told both Miller's team and Flynns that he still had questions about how Flynn's lies had affected Müller's work.
The conviction has not been postponed "The question of whether this guy is a traitor, not in the legal sense, but acts with bad intentions and judgments," said Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor who is now a CNN legal analyst ,
While still dealing with Flynn, Sullivan appears to be using his power to restrict public access to this part of the investigation.
He has already instructed the Ministry of Justice to include the edited version of the Müller report previously published on the Agency's website in the collaboration urt record, which is available online.
When the prosecutor tried to do so on May 17, the file was too big. Her backup plan was to hand over a printed copy to Sullivan's chambers instead.
That would not be enough for Sullivan. He ordered the Department of Justice to break it to pieces and continue to file the 448-page document publicly in the court record.