image

Donald Trump

Trump’s former security adviser Michael Flynn offers to testify on Russia links if he gets immunity

Flynn’s lawyer says he ‘has a story to tell’ congressional investigators, but only if he is safe from ‘unfair prosecution’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 April, 2017, 10:52am

Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has offered to testify before congressional committees probing potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia but wants protection against “unfair prosecution”, his lawyer said on Thursday.

“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,” said a statement from Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner.

Trump on Friday tweeted his support of Flynn’s decision: “Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”

Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was too soon to discuss immunity for Flynn.

A government official with direct knowledge of the case said that lawyers for Flynn raised the immunity request roughly 10 days ago with representatives of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Officials told them the committee was not interested in any immunity discussions at that time.

Testimony from Flynn could help shed light on the conversations he had with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kisylak last year when he was the national security adviser for Trump’s presidential campaign.

Kelner said discussions had taken place about Flynn’s availability to testify with officials of the intelligence committees of both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. Both committees are investigating allegations of Russian meddling in the US election campaign last year as well as possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russians.

Flynn was forced to resign as Trump’s national security adviser in February for failing to disclose talks with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office about US sanctions on Moscow and misleading Vice-President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Questions remain about the scope of the discussions and what other contacts took place between other Trump advisers with the Russians. Earlier this week, the White House disclosed that Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, met executives of Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, in December.

US intelligence agencies have said Russia hacked emails of senior Democrats and orchestrated the release of embarrassing information in a bid to tip the presidential election in favour of Trump, whose views were seen as more in line with the Moscow’s.

Russia has denied the allegations. Trump has dismissed suggestions of links with Moscow as Democratic sour grapes for losing the election.

On Thursday Vladimir Putin himself dismissed the claim that the Kremlin had helped Trump’s campaign.

“Read my lips – no,” the Russian president answered, when asked whether Russia had tried to influence the vote. He emphasised the denial by saying “no” in English.

The Wall Street Journal, citing officials with knowledge of the matter, reported on Thursday that Flynn had sought immunity from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the House and Senate intelligence panels in exchange for his testimony. The newspaper said he had so far found no takers.

The House denied the Journal report. “Michael Flynn has not offered to testify to HPSCI in exchange for immunity,” committee spokesman Jack Langer said in a statement.

The FBI declined to comment. The Senate committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kelner’s statement did not mention the FBI.

He said Flynn “is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated.”

Kelner said Flynn would not “submit to questioning in such a highly politicised, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.”

Independent Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN he could not confirm the Journal report, but “if that turns out to be the case, that’s a significant development I believe because it indicates that he has something important to say.”