Subpoenas pile up for Michael Flynn’s documents
Washington — Subpoenas for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn piled up Wednesday as the House intelligence committee pressured Flynn to cooperate with its investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The prospect of new congressional subpoenas came one day after the committee’s Senate counterpart served its own subpoenas to Flynn’s businesses. The FBI also faced a deadline Wednesday to turn over memos written by former FBI Director James Comey detailing his discussions with President Donald Trump. One memo reportedly shows Trump pressuring Comey to shut down the bureau’s investigation into Flynn’s Russia ties.
During a breakfast Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the House intelligence committee’s top Democrat, told reporters that Flynn declined to turn over records to the committee, and he said it will be “following up with subpoenas.” Schiff did not elaborate on what materials the committee was seeking.
The attempts to compel Flynn to produce documents were just another sign of the intense focus on Trump’s former national security adviser, who was fired in February after the White House said he misled administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, about his contacts with Russian officials.
In addition to the congressional scrutiny, Flynn is currently a target of an FBI counterintelligence investigation, a federal probe in Virginia and a Defense Department inspector general’s inquiry into the propriety of foreign payments he accepted.
In a letter to the Senate committee on Monday, Flynn invoked his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination in deflecting the panel’s subpoena for a wide array of documents and information related to his contacts with Russians.
Flynn’s attorneys argued that the Senate’s request was too broad, and if Flynn were to comply, he could be confirming the existence of some documents and, in effect, providing testimony that could be used against him. They also said an “escalating public frenzy” against Flynn and the appointment of a special counsel had created a legally perilous environment for Flynn to provide the information.
In response, the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday sent a letter narrowing its request for documents. It also issued subpoenas seeking documents from two of Flynn’s businesses— Flynn Intel Group Inc., a consulting firm owned by Flynn and his business partners, and Flynn Intel Group LLC, a company he used for other projects, such as his paid speeches.
Flynn could choose to contest the congressional subpoenas seeking his business records, but legal experts said he would not prevail.
Solomon L. Wisenberg, a Washington defense lawyer who worked as a prosecutor during the Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton, said both of Flynn’s corporate structures would likely have to turn over all business records sought by the committee. “The Fifth Amendment privilege does not apply to business entities, period,” he said, adding that both Supreme Court and District of Columbia Circuit Court rulings would weigh on the committee’s side.
If the FBI misses its deadline to turn over memos and other materials documenting Comey’s interactions with the president, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has said he would subpoena them, if necessary. Chaffetz is the chairman of the House government oversight committee.
The FBI declined comment.