Former national security adviser Michael Flynn has reportedly told the FBI and investigators looking into President Donald Trump’s alleged campaign ties to Russia that he would submit himself to be interviewed in exchange for immunity, according to officials cited by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Robert Kelner, the attonrney representing Flynn, reportedly made the offer to the FBI and the intelligence committees in both the House and Senate in order to avoid what he called “unfair prosecution,” however, so far, none of the officials have accepted Flynn’s terms, The Journal reported.
One of the newspaper’s sources added that given the nature of Flynn’s willingness to come forward with his testimony, he may be in legal jeopardy for his short tenure as a top security official in the Trump White House.
Kelner’s statement read in part:
“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit.
Out of respect for the Committees, we will not comment right now on the details of discussions between counsel for General Flynn and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, other than to confirm that those discussions have taken place.”
“Notwithstanding his life of national service, the media are awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed against him. He is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by Members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated. 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.”
Though offering to testify may have been one legal recourse for Flynn, he asserted in an MSNBC interview last year that asking for immunity in such circumstances “means you have probably committed a crime.” Flynn at the time was referring to the FBI’s investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server scandal.
- AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
As a security adviser who handled matters of utmost sensitivity, Flynn had access to top-secret materials and was allegedly involved in discussions regarding potential lifting of sanctions on Russia that were initiated in the last weeks of President Barack Obama’s administration – sanctions that were imposed for Russia’s alleged role in “malicious cyber-enabled activities.”
Flynn eventually resigned in February, following reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his phone conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, during Trump’s transition to the Oval Office.
Flynn said he apologized to Pence, saying he may have discussed Obama’s sanctions against Russia with Kislyak before Trump was sworn in. Prior to that revelation, Flynn adamantly contended that US sanctions never came up during the conversations.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador,” Flynn wrote in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the president and vice president, and they have accepted my apology.”
- Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Ticking time bomb?
The timing of Flynn’s offer to the FBI and intelligence committees was seen as curious, considering it comes amid a wide-ranging, multi-agency investigation into possible ties between people in Trump’s orbit and the Kremlin.
One of those investigations appeared to stall in the last week, after House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes became involved with classified information-sharing with sources inside the White House. Nunes’ actions have sparked a bipartisan outcry.
“We’re doing our best to try and get the investigation back on track,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the committee said in a CNN report published Thursday. “We’re in the process of exchanging witness lists and are going to see if by the end of the day we can agree on at least a common set of initial witnesses.”
Several people associated with the Trump team have been implicated in the ongoing Russia investigation, which FBI Director James Comey publicly acknowledged for the first time during congressional hearings last week.