Monday, 16 December, 2019

Former CIA head to answer questions about Russian meddling

Mike Flynn arrives for a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The former national security adviser will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday May Former CIA head to answer questions about Russian meddling
Debra Rodriguez | 24 May, 2017, 03:53

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday announced their first slate of responses to former national security advisor Michael Flynn's refusal to respond to a subpoena for documents related to the committee's probe into Russian election meddling.

The committee issued a subpoena for Flynn to provide documents related to its investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 USA election and whether there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), committee vice chairman, said the panel would not specify what measures it would pursue "before we actually take the ultimate sanctions step" of voting to hold Flynn in contempt - a move that would need the eventual buy-in of the full Senate to trigger any sort of court proceeding. Story Continued Below "You'll just have to wait and watch". Trump asked in a campaign rally in Iowa in September.

Flynn's attorney said on Monday he declined to comply.

He also said that before such sharing, the USA would go back to the intelligence partner that provided the information to make sure it would not compromise operatives.

Meanwhile, the Senate committee's subpoena to Flynn focused on his interactions with Russian officials.

Corporations are not subject to Fifth Amendment protections, providing committee leaders with an alternative avenue to obtain the information they want.

Trump, now on a nine-day global trip, has had his own conversations with the Russians questioned in light of reports that he shared extremely classified intelligence with Russian diplomats in the Oval Office on May 10.

The committee is conducting one of the main congressional probes into US intelligence agency reports of Russian meddling in the election and whether there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.

That comment referred to revelations that he divulged classified information about an Islamic State threat in his May 10 meeting in the Oval Office with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador. Cummings made his points in a letter asking the committee's chairman, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, to subpoena the White House for documents related to Flynn.

Flynn's decision does not fully close the door on future cooperation with the committee.

This is the second time he has declined to cooperate with a request from the Senate committee.

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According to Monday's letter, the committee requested that Flynn provide a list of all meetings and communications he had with Russian officials.

Brennan noted anew that USA intelligence agencies had concluded "Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary (Hillary) Clinton and harm her electability and potential presidency, and to help President Trump's election chances". The letter notes that the time frame of the request was January 16, 2015, through January 20, 2017.

Flynn's attorneys told the Senate intelligence committee on Monday that he will not turn over personal documents sought under the congressional subpoena, citing an "escalating public frenzy" against him.

In Flynn's case, the committee has taken a grant of immunity off of the table completely.

"The committee could decide to go ahead and not worry about Mueller", Ginsberg said, but that could create new legal complications for Mueller's probe.

On Monday, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the House oversight committee, cited inconsistencies in Flynn's disclosures to US investigators during his security clearance review in early 2016.

In Sunday TV appearances, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers said they will press Comey in hearings as to whether he ever felt that Trump tried to interfere with his Federal Bureau of Investigation work.

He added that the new reports have now demonstrated a pattern.

Comey was sacked by Trump earlier this month.

Comey has agreed to testify before the Senate intelligence panel after Memorial Day.

Brennan, who was President Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency director, said he couldn't say whether there was collusion between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, an issue being investigated by congressional committees and now a federal special counsel.

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