National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn has refused to respond to a Senate Intelligence Committee subpoena for documents related to the inquiry into his potentially treasonous collusion with agents of the Russian Federation during and following the 2016 presidential election by claiming his right not to self-incriminate under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
It turns out the general can try stonewall, but he still can’t hide.
Diligent investigation by the Washington Post has revealed that Michael Flynn has received numerous payments from sources closely linked to the Russian government and its ruling coven of oligarchs and has thus far refused to give up the records of those transactions to the Senate.
So in response, the Senate committee today issued two new subpoenas, not to Flynn personally. but instead to his businesses – which cannot refuse.
“A business does not have the right to take the Fifth,” Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the committee’s lead Democrat, told reporters as he and chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) pledged to “keep all options on the table.”
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Burr and Warner announced they would subpoena documents from the two Flynn businesses they were aware of, Flynn Intel, LLC, and Flynn Intel Inc., both based in Alexandria, Va.
They are also sending a letter to Flynn’s lawyers challenging them on “whether Flynn can take the Fifth as it relates to document production,” and itemizing more specifically what documents they want Flynn to furnish.
Warner also said they are keeping “all options on the table.” That could mean a contempt of Congress action against Flynn or other punitive actions. The Senate is also looking into charging Flynn with obstruction of justice.
Mark Warner on Senate Intel issuing subpoenas to Flynn's biz: "A business does not have a right to take the Fifth if it’s a corporation." pic.twitter.com/R44JkcLRdB
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 23, 2017
The one thing that seems to be off the table right now is Michael Flynn’s request for “immunity” in return for his cooperation.
Flynn is facing a lot more than just the Senate committee. There is also an active House inquiry that today heard from former CIA Head John Brennan, who revealed that he knew as early as last summer the Russians were actively trying to interfere in the 2016 election and conducted communications with the Trump campaign, which appears to include then-campaign adviser Flynn.
Recently appointed Special Prosecutor Robert Muller is just starting to get his investigation off the ground, which certainly has targeted Flynn as a person of significant interest.
If anything, Flynn’s stonewalling just makes him look more guilty and more likely to be the target of all these investigations.
Flynn’s refusal also deeply hurts President Trump. It is expected to increase scrutiny of how Trump could have hired Flynn as his National Security Advisor when it was already clear he had conflicts and baggage that raised ethical concerns -baggage that it is now revealed Trump and his team were well aware of.
Even after Trump was warned by Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that Flynn was compromised, the President kept him on the job for another 18 days, giving a man vulnerable to blackmail from a foreign power access to our nation’s most classified national security information.
It was Trump who during the 2016 campaign lambasted aides to Hillary Clinton for taking the Fifth during an investigation of her use of a private email server. At a September 2016 rally in Iowa, Trump said:
“So there are five people taking the Fifth Amendment, like you see on the mob, right? You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Now Trump may with to ask Flynn that question, if his lawyers let them speak again.
While Flynn is stalling, others have complied with the subpoenas. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and Roger Stone, who was a Trump campaign advisor, have both complied with the committee’s requests and answered questions sent to them. Both are expected to eventually testify as well.
The more we learn about Russia during the campaign, Trump and his staff’s involvement, the worse it looks for the president.
There is now no doubt the Russians were actively working for Trump’s election. The next shoe to drop will be which members of Team Trump were “Putin out” for the Russians.