Lawyers for Michael Flynn, president Donald Trump's former national security adviser, have told Trump's legal team they can no longer discuss a probe into Russian meddling in the US election, indicating Mr Flynn may be cooperating with the investigation, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Mr Flynn, a retired Army general, is a central figure in a federal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Mr Trump aides colluded with Russia to boost his 2016 presidential campaign.
The probe has hung over the White House since January, when US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the election to try to help Mr Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton by hacking and releasing embarrassing emails and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit her.
Russia has denied interfering in the US election and Mr Trump has said there was no collusion.
Mr Flynn’s lawyer and a spokesman for Mr Mueller declined to comment on Thursday.
Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Mr Trump, said: "No one should draw the conclusion that this means anything about General Flynn co-operating against the president."
The Times reported that Mr Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Mr Trump’s legal team about the Mueller investigation.
Citing four unnamed people involved in the case, the newspaper reported the co-operation agreement had ended.
Due to rules that aim to prevent conflicts of interest when lawyers represent clients, the move by Mr Flynn's lawyers to stop communicating with Mr Trump's lawyers indicated Mr Flynn was now co-operating with Mr Mueller, the Times said, although adding that in itself was not proof.
But the development has led Mr Trump’s lawyers to believe that Mr Flynn has begun discussions with Mueller about co-operating, according to the Times.
Mr Flynn served 24 days as Mr Trump's national security adviser but was fired after it was discovered he had misrepresented his contacts with a Russian diplomat to vice president Mike Pence.
Mr Mueller’s inquiry is looking into Mr Flynn’s paid work as a lobbyist for a Turkish businessman in 2016, in addition to contacts between Russian officials and Mr Flynn and other Trump associates during and after the November 8th presidential election, Reuters reported in June.
A lawyer for Mr Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr, who worked with his father and is also being investigated by Mr Mueller, according to a person familiar with the matter, declined to comment. - Reuters