Senate panel threatens Flynn with criminal contempt over subpoenas

May 25, 2017, 01:35

The top two senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee are questioning whether former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn can invoke the Fifth Amendment to deny them the documents they've requested from him, in relation to their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"While we disagree with Gen. Flynn's lawyer's interpretation of taking the Fifth", said Ranking Member Sen.

Burr and Warner said Tuesday that they also sent a letter to Flynn's attorney seeking the legal rationale for his refusal to comply with their investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee announced it has subpoenaed two companies owned by Flynn.

Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Monday that he was reviewing options to compel Flynn to comply, including holding Flynn in contempt, CNN reported.

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The payments Flynn received from Russian Federation have always been a point of contention for Trump's top former national security aide - someone the president kept at his post for 18 days, even after the Justice Department told the White House Flynn had been compromised by Moscow - but allegations that he deliberately misled USA investigators in official documents are a new development.

Flynn downplayed his dinner with Putin during his security check, telling investigators that during his foreign trips he "had only unsubstantial contact with foreign nationals".

"You see the mob taking the Fifth", Trump said. Burr (R-North Carolina) said at a joint press conference at Warner's side. One remedy available may be a resolution to hold Flynn in civil contempt of Congress. But the Oversight Committee released detailed email and payment records months ago showing that the source of Flynn's payment of more than $33,000 was RT, the Russian state-sponsored television network that has been labeled a propaganda network by US intelligence.

"There's a lot of information that we need to gather about what the President is alleged to have done and what the President's intentions were before we can reach any conclusions on the legal issues", Schiff said.

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"That's not something I think we would entertain until far later, if at all", Schiff said.

Now, the committee's top Democrat is saying that Flynn didn't just fail to notify the Pentagon of those payments - he told government investigators that such payments didn't exist when he applied for top-secret security clearance in February of past year. He added: "The only thing I can tell you is immunity is off the table".

Citing current and former officials, the Post said the national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, both refused Trump's request, judging it to be inappropriate. It added that Trump had continued to defend Flynn even after firing the aide for lying about his contacts with Russian Federation during the campaign.

A day earlier, Flynn had invoked his constitutional right not to incriminate himself in response to the Senate committee's request for details about interactions between him and the Russians.

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When asked why he had turned down Flynn's offer to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Burr said the committee had discussed that and decided against it.

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