Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights and decline a
subpoena issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee for documents related to his interactions with Russian officials between June 2015 and January 2017, The Associated Press reported Monday.
The documents were subpoenaed after Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, declined to provide them by the original April 28 deadline. Kelner did not respond to request for comment.
Flynn asked for immunity from prosecution in late March in exchange for agreeing to testify before House and Senate committees about Russia’s election interference.
The committees have yet to take him up on that offer, but if they did, then Flynn would be required to comply with their requests, said Andrew Wright, an associate professor at Savannah Law School who specialises in federal criminal law and national security.
Wright said Flynn’s plan to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination “will not play well publicly because many in Congress, the media, and the public will interpret it as an admission of guilt.” He added, however, that “there are good reasons for Flynn’s lawyer to recommend an assertion of privilege whether he is guilty of a crime or not.”
Trump, who has remained fierce a defender of Flynn since he resigned on February 13, has in the past criticised immunity requests and invoking the Fifth Amendment. At a rally in Iowa last September, Trump slammed former Clinton staffers who declined requests to testify about the former Secretary of State’s private email server.
“The mob takes the Fifth Amendment,” Trump said at the time. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Flynn was forced to resign only 24 days after Trump appointed him national security adviser amid reports that he had discussed the issue of sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration.
The House Oversight Committee announced earlier this month that Flynn had failed to disclose a $US33,000 payment he received from Russia’s state-owned news network in 2015 on security-clearance forms last year.
CNN reported Friday that Russian officials boasted of their relationship with Flynn throughout 2016 and saw him as an ally who could help Moscow make inroads with Trump. At least two other former Trump associates, Paul Manafort and Carter Page, are under FBI investigation for their ties to Russia. A senior White House official is now caught up in the FBI’s Russia probe, too, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
More from Natasha Bertrand:
- Report: Michael Flynn will invoke 5th amendment, won’t comply with Senate’s subpoena
- Wilbur Ross: ‘There was not a single hint of a protester anywhere’ in Saudi Arabia
- Russian operatives reportedly bragged that they could use Mike Flynn to get to the White House
- Expert: Trump’s comments to Russians about Comey ‘is compelling evidence of corrupt intent’
- A current senior White House official is now reportedly a ‘significant person of interest’ in the Russia probe
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