Lawyers for Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, have told the president’s legal team that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, an indication that Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating a deal, reports the New York Times. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining whether anyone around Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Defense lawyers frequently share information during investigations, but they must stop when doing so would pose a conflict of interest. It is unethical for lawyers to work together when one client is cooperating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation. A deal with Flynn would give Mueller a behind-the-scenes look at the Trump campaign and the early tumultuous weeks of the administration. Flynn was an early and important adviser to Trump, an architect of Trump’s populist “America first” platform and an advocate of closer ties with Russia. The White House has been bracing for charges against Flynn, particularly after charges were filed against three other former Trump associates: Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman; Rick Gates, a campaign aide; and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser. None of those men match Flynn in stature, or in his significance to Trump.