The Senate panel running an investigation into president Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia has issued two new subpoenas, asking Flynn to hand over the files that document his interactions with Russian operatives.
Flynn Cannot Invoke the Fifth Again
Flynn rejected the panel’s first subpoena request citing the 5th Amendment, but experts think that if he repeats the move, Congress could vote on whether to hold him in contempt. The 5th Amendment protects people from self incrimination.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Tuesday that all options were on the table when it comes to Flynn.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s first subpoena request targeted the retired general’s personal documents. The subpoena was issued on May 10, around two weeks after he refused to cooperate with the panel on Trump’s associates’ possible ties to the Russian government.
Before Congress’ request of cooperation in late April, Flynn’s lawyers said that their client wouldn’t answer the panel’s questions if he is not first assured that there would be no “unfair prosecution”.
The latest subpoenas target Flynn’s Virginia-based consulting firm because companies cannot invoke the Fifth. Flynn said the original subpoena was not specific enough, a fact challenged by the Senate panel.
Experts believe a contempt charge may be looming.
‘Everything Is on the Table’
Sen. Richard Burr who chairs the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said that if Flynn still refuses to cooperate, the panel would seek “additional counsel” on what to do next. The very last option is a contempt charge, Burr said, adding that “everything is on the table”.
The lawmaker also said that the Senate panel would rather like to hear from the disgraced national security adviser than hold him in contempt. Burr wants to see the documents and hear Flynn’s version of the story because at one point he said that he had a “story” to tell.
Flynn could seek immunity, but Burr said Congress would not grant it to him regardless of how valuable he might be for the counterintelligence investigation. If a criminal investigation is started, Flynn will have to face the consequences.
Flynn’s recent troubles came at a time when Barack Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday that he has direct knowledge of evidence confirming the Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Sens Mark Warner said the Senate panel was looking into those claims too. Senators are interested to learn the nature of the contacts Brennan spoke about, the implications of those contacts, and their consequences, if any.
Brennan told Senators that he is “aware” of information that there have been contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. The information reportedly raised questions in the mind of the former intel chief about a possible cooperation between Moscow and some of Trump’s campaign aides.
Brennan’s explosive statement basically throws under the bus president’s Trump’s recent argument that the Russian investigation is a “witch hunt” designed to undermine his presidency.
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