Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has fired his lawyers, signaling a potential change in his legal strategy as he awaits sentencing in the special counsel’s probe.
Robert Kelner, a partner at Covington & Burling, said in a court filing Thursday that Flynn terminated their arrangement and has already hired new lawyers.
Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, pleaded guilty Dec. 1, 2017, to making false statements to the FBI on Jan. 24, 2017, regarding his conversations with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn cooperated extensively with the special counsel’s probe. He was interviewed by the special counsel’s office 17 times on a variety of topics, including his work on the Trump campaign and during the presidential transition period.
Flynn has also cooperated with federal prosecutors investigating his consulting firm’s work for the Turkish government. Flynn is expected to testify at a trial for his former business partner, Bijan Rafiekian, that is expected to start in July.
It is not clear why Flynn is replacing Covington & Burling as counsel. Kelner declined comment. A source close to Flynn told The Daily Caller News Foundation a statement is likely to be released in the coming days.
Flynn has laid low since being fired as national security adviser Feb. 14, 2017. While his legal team has counseled him to avoid the public spotlight, Flynn’s family members and friends have urged a more aggressive public response to the special counsel’s probe.
Flynn was to be sentenced in the special counsel’s investigation Dec. 18, 2018, but Flynn and Kelner asked for a delay in sentencing after Judge Emmet Sullivan, who handled Flynn’s case, berated him just before he was about to impose a sentence. The special counsel’s office had recommended a jail sentence of between zero and six months for Flynn. Sullivan accused Flynn of betraying his country, saying “arguably, you sold your country out.”
Another development in Flynn’s case came June 30, when Sullivan released a transcript of a voicemail that one of President Donald Trump’s former lawyers, John Dowd, left for Kelner in November 2017, shortly before Flynn decided to enter a plea agreement with the special counsel.
A partial transcript of the voicemail was included in the special counsel’s report. But the full transcript showed the special counsel’s team left key context out of the transcript.
Dowd accused Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, of smearing his reputation by publishing only a portion of the transcript. He said the partial transcript implied he was trying to pressure Flynn and Kelner not to cooperate with the special counsel.