Senate panel threatens Flynn with criminal contempt over subpoenas

The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Washington Post via Getty Images

The heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Tuesday they plan to subpoena two of former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's companies to get documents he has declined to provide for their Russian Federation probe since the businesses can't invoke a Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

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.

"A business does not have the right to take the fifth", Warner told reporters.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, whose panel is investigating Russia's meddling in the presidential election, said he hoped the committee's subpoenas to President Donald Trump's former national security adviser would go out this week. The Senate committee responded with two additional subpoenas on Tuesday targeting Flynn's businesses. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee's chairman.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also questioned whether the Fifth Amendment provided protection for documents in Mr. Flynn's possession. The Fifth Amendment gives an individual the right to avoid self-incrimination.

Burr added that if there is no response from Flynn, the committee may consider pursuing a contempt of Congress charge.

The Washington Post via Getty Images
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Burr reiterated that while the panel preferred not to hold Flynn in contempt "everything is on the table".

"So we need to take a look at some of the financial issues to try to determine whether the Russians used money to try to entangle USA persons, as a way of influencing their conduct", Schiff said. "We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said 'I've got a story to tell.' We're allowing him that opportunity to do it". FBI investigators are also examining Flynn's Russian contacts as part of their sprawling probe of the Kremlin's campaign to interfere in the 2016 election.

He was sacked from his position at the White House in February, after less than a month on the job, for failing to disclose the content of talks with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Before the April request, Flynn said through a statement from his lawyer that he wouldn't submit himself to questioning from the committee "without assurances against unfair prosecution".

On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan testified to the House intelligence panel that he had noticed enough contact between Trump associates and Russian Federation during the 2016 campaign to justify an investigation by the FBI.

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