President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, is willing to testify before federal and congressional investigators in their ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the US elections, but only if he is granted immunity, his lawyer said Thursday.
“Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit. … 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,” Robert Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, said in a statement late Thursday.
Congress and the executive branch have the power to grant immunity from prosecution in exchange for witness testimony or cooperation in an investigation. People granted immunity still can be prosecuted for perjury if they give false information. Traditionally, investigators grant immunity when they believe a witness’s information is important to the investigation and might not be able to be obtained otherwise. During the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the FBI granted limited forms of immunity to some of her aides. Mrs Clinton wasn’t charged in the matter. A grant of immunity from Congress would require approval from two-thirds of the congressional committee requesting testimony or a majority vote in the full House or Senate. Congress would then need to notify the attorney general and get the approval of a district court judge.
Flynn was fired from his job as President Donald 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 U.S. during the transition.Details of what Flynn might be willing to say to investigators have not been made public. Flynn is facing pressure from several inquiries into his dealings with Russian officials which include thousands he was paid by a trio of Russian companies for speeches made before he joined Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, as well as his communications with the Russian ambassador. The discussions were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The report cited officials who said that Flynn has made offers to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committees through Kelner but has so far found no takers.
Earlier this month, Mr Flynn filed registration forms acknowledging he had previously worked as a foreign agent on behalf of Turkish government interests. The Wall Street Journal reported that while serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign, Mr Flynn met with top Turkish government ministers and discussed removing a Muslim cleric from the U.S. and taking him to Turkey, according to former Central Intelligence Agency Director James Woolsey, who attended, and others who were briefed on the meeting. The Turkish government has accused the cleric of being behind an attempted coup last year.
A spokesman for Mr Flynn disputed the account, saying “at no time did General Flynn discuss any illegal actions, nonjudicial physical removal or any other such activities.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on Thursday evening. Some experts cautioned against drawing hasty conclusions about Mr. Flynn’s request for immunity.Flynn’s offer to testify comes as Democrats continue to press for investigations into ties Trump may have had with Russia. To date there has been no direct ties proven between Trump or his campaign for president and Russia.