Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser under President Donald Trump, will not comply with a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena for documents related to its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, invoking the Fifth Amendment and his right against self-incrimination.
Flynn’s decision, which his attorneys announced in a letter sent Monday to committee chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and vice chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., comes as evidence continues to mount elsewhere in Congress that the former national security adviser appears to have misrepresented his Russia ties.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, Md., the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter Monday to the panel’s chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, citing documents “in our possession. . . that appear to indicate that General Flynn lied to the investigators who interviewed him in 2016 as part of his security clearance renewal” about income he made from a December 2015 speaking engagement at a gala hosted by the Russian state-owned media company RT.
Cummings cited a previously undisclosed March 14, 2016, Report of Investigation showing Flynn “told security clearance investigators that he was paid by ‘U.S. companies’ when he traveled to Moscow” for that gala and that Flynn told investigators that “he has not received any benefit from a foreign country.”
But payment vouchers and other documents showed that Russia had “directly” paid for Flynn’s airfare, accommodations and other expenses, Cummings wrote.
In addition to the RT payments, Flynn has come under scrutiny for collecting more than $500,000 for lobbying work on behalf of Turkish interests.
The Cummings letter referenced the Report of Investigation to impress upon Chaffetz why he should issue subpoenas against various White House officials, to learn what “top officials knew about General Flynn – and when they knew it.”
The appeal to Chaffetz came on the same day that Flynn’s attorneys informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would not comply with its subpoena for documents.
“The context in which the Committee has called for General Flynn’s testimonial production of documents makes it clear that he has more than a reasonable apprehension that any testimony he provides could be used against him,” Flynn’s attorneys wrote in their letter to Burr and Warner.
The committee wanted Flynn to produce any records of conversations he had with Russian officials between June 16, 2015, and Jan. 20, 2017, and to compile a list of any contacts he had with Russian officials.
While the Fifth Amendment is commonly applied to giving testimony, Flynn’s attorneys argued that by creating or handing over the documents the committee had requested, their client would essentially be giving testimony about the existence of those conversations and, thus, potentially incriminating himself.
“Producing documents that fall within the subpoena’s broad scope would be a testimonial act, insofar as it would confirm or deny the existence of such documents,” they wrote.
Flynn has offered “to give a full account,” his attorneys wrote in Monday’s letter, but only if he receives “assurances against unfair prosecution” – in other words, immunity. The committee has not offered Flynn immunity in exchange for his testimony to the committee.
His attorneys also strongly hinted that they think the congressional committees would be biased against Flynn if he complied with the request.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Karoun Demirjian