Pressure mounts as Senate subpoenas Flynn again over Trump-Russia inquiry

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Members of Senates investigation say Flynn is testing his limits by ignoring their requests to turn over documents, and warn he risks being held in contempt

Congressional investigators on Tuesday issued a fresh warning to Michael Flynn to turn over documents pertaining to the investigation of Russian interference in the US election, escalating pressure on Donald Trumps former national security adviser to either comply or risk being held in contempt.

Leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, which is overseeing one of the three separate inquiries into potential ties between Trumps campaign and Moscow, announced two new subpoenas for Flynns business records a day after he rejected earlier requests for documents by invoking his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination.

Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, the top Republican and Democrat on the panel, told reporters on Capitol Hill they were considering all options available to compel Flynns cooperation with their investigation. Among the possibilities, the senators acknowledged, was to hold Flynn in contempt of Congress, a criminal charge, if he continued down the path of refusing compliance.

The end of that option is a contempt charge, Burr said. Thats not our preference today. We would like to hear from Gen Flynn.

Wed like to see his documents, wed like him to tell his story because he publicly said, Ive got a story to tell, Burr added. Were allowing him that opportunity.

Mark
Mark Warner (right) and Richard Burr speak to the media. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Flynn was forced to resign in February following revelations that he secretly discussed US sanctions against Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, and subsequently misled vice-president Mike Pence about the nature of their conversation. Flynn indicated in March he would share his testimony in exchange for immunity, a proposal that has been flatly rejected by both the Senate and House intelligence committees and the FBI, the three parties with ongoing investigations into Russias efforts to meddle in the November election with the apparent goal of boosting Trumps candidacy.

It is not our plan today to offer immunity, Burr said Tuesday.

Warner added that Flynns two Virginia-based companies, Flynn Intel LLC, and Flynn Intel Inc, did not have a right to plead the fifth, telling reporters: While we disagree with Gen Flynns lawyers interpretation of taking the fifth, it is even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the fifth. It is a corporation.

Other members of the Senate intelligence committee echoed the sentiment that Flynn was testing his limits by ignoring their requests.

I hope Gen Flynn decides to comply with our Intel Committee subpoena to produce business documents, Florida senator Marco Rubio tweeted on Tuesday. Otherwise all options should be on table.

Marco Rubio (@marcorubio)

I hope Gen.Flynn decides to comply with our Intel Committee subpoena to produce business documents. Otherwise all options should be on table

May 23, 2017

Burr and Warner said Tuesday that they also sent a letter to Flynns attorney seeking the legal rationale for his refusal to comply with their investigation.

Flynns attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.

Flynn has ignored several subpoena requests in relation to the three inquiries, even as his role in the complicated web of communications between Russia and associates of Trump has been compounded by recent reports suggesting the president urged ousted FBI director James Comey and intelligence community to back off its investigation of Flynn.

Adding to Flynns legal woes was a letter released Monday by the top Democrat on the House oversight committee accusing him of misleading Pentagon investigators about payments he received from companies in Russia and his contacts with officials in Moscow while seeking a renewal of his top-secret security clearance last year.

Flynn had already failed to disclose income from Russia amounting to tens of thousands of dollars while applying for clearance to work in the Trump White House. Intentionally misleading federal investigators is a felony charge that could result in possible jail time.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/23/michael-flynn-trump-russia-investigation-new-subpoenas

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