Sat, Apr 01, 2017 - Page 7 News List

Michael Flynn in talks with Congress

‘UNFAIR PROSECUTION’:Flynn’s attorney said the political climate in which his client is facing ‘claims of treason and vicious innuendo’ is factoring into his negotiations


Former US national security adviser Michael Flynn is in discussions with the House and Senate intelligence committees on receiving immunity from “unfair prosecution” in exchange for agreeing to be questioned as part of ongoing probes into possible contacts between US President Donald Trump’s election campaign team and Russia, his attorney said on Thursday.

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

Kelner said no “reasonable person” with legal counsel would answer questions without assurances that he would not be prosecuted, given calls from some members of US Congress that the retired lieutenant general should face criminal charges.

Flynn’s ties to Russia have been scrutinized by the FBI and are under investigation by the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Both committees are looking into Russia’s meddling in last year’s US presidential election, as well as any ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

Since July last year, the FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and possible coordination with Trump associates.

Kelner released a statement after the Wall Street Journal first reported that Flynn’s negotiations with the committee included discussions of immunity. The lawyer described the talks as ongoing and said he would not comment on the details.

A congressional aide confirmed that discussions with the US Senate intelligence committee involved immunity. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

House intelligence committee spokesman Jack Langer said Flynn has not offered to testify to the committee in exchange for immunity.

Four other Trump associates have also come forward saying they would talk to the committees. As of Wednesday, the Senate intelligence committee had asked to interview 20 people as part of the probe.

In his statement, Kelner said the political climate in which Flynn is facing “claims of treason and vicious innuendo” is factoring into his negotiations with the two committees.

“No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution,” Kelner said.

In September last year, Flynn weighed in on the implications of immunity on NBC’s Meet the Press, criticizing then-Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and her associates in the FBI’s investigation into her use of a private e-mail server.

“When you are given immunity, that means that you have probably committed a crime,” Flynn said during the interview.

Flynn was fired from his job as Trump’s first national security adviser after it was disclosed that he misled the vice president about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition period.

In the weeks after he resigned, Flynn and his business registered with the US Department of Justice as foreign agents for US$530,000 worth of lobbying work that could have benefited the Turkish government.

The lobbying occurred while Flynn was a Trump election campaign adviser.

The Turkish businessman who hired Flynn, Ekim Alptekin, has said that Flynn’s firm registered under pressure from the US Department of Justice.

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