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White House Worries About Secret Recordings
News that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has cut a deal with Robert Mueller reportedly has the White House in a fit of paranoia about conversations with Flynn — or any other cooperating witnesses — that may have been recorded as part of the Russia probe.
White House attorneys and private counsel representing both current and former Trump aides told POLITICO they immediately checked in with their clients once they learned about Mueller’s plea agreements with Papadopoulos and Flynn, asking whether they’d had any communications with their former colleagues which could have been secretly recorded while also reminding them to be diligent in avoiding conversations with anyone except their lawyer related to the Russia investigation.
People in the White House likely have a good reason to be worried. In these types of far-reaching federal investigations, it’s fairly common for cooperating witnesses to wear a wire in an attempt to gather important information for prosecutors. So anyone who has had a conversation with Michael Flynn over the last two months probably has to be wondering if they were recorded. We likely won’t know for sure for some time, since Mueller has been very good at keeping the most sensitive elements of his investigation under wraps.
POLITICO goes on:
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman said Mueller is on solid ground with ample court precedent to use witnesses wearing wires with anyone who isn’t known to have a lawyer. And he said the special counsel also has plenty of room to use the technique with people who do have lawyers. “Otherwise, the government would never be able to use body wires against career criminals like members of the mafia who always have lawyers,” he said. Defense attorneys rarely succeed in getting tape-recorded conversations thrown out in court, he added, because the cooperator can still testify about what the person told them.
So even if people in the White House try to raise a stink about Mueller potentially wiring his cooperators, they aren’t likely to get very far.