Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the man who Russian government officials reportedly saw as the key to exerting control over Donald Trump, has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to hand over personal documents to a Senate committee investigating the Trump Russia scandal.
According to an Associated Press report on Monday, a source with “personal knowledge of the matter” has said that Flynn will refuse to comply with a subpoena order for the documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee issued about two weeks ago.
The documents could shed light on Flynn’s financial relationship with Russian interests as well as the Turkish government for which the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency also performed paid lobbying work — payments that he later lied about receiving.
But Flynn’s refusal to cooperate with the committee citing his Fifth Amendment rights may actually be a prelude to an immunity deal which Flynn earlier sought, according to numerous media reports — an immunity deal that would allow him to “flip” and testify against Trump and others involved in the scandal that could reveal direct links between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russian interference in the election through computer hacking and a massive propaganda campaign using sophisticated social media techniques.
Flynn’s reliance on the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination appears to be a jarring plot twist in the scandal; Flynn himself ridiculed former aides to Trump’s 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton for seeking immunity in relation to the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“Five people around her have been given immunity,” Flynn said in a September 2016 interview with NBC News, seen in the above video. “When you are given immunity, that means that you probably committed a crime.”
Flynn was one of Trump’s most trusted advisers during the campaign and afterward. He gained national notoriety at last year’s Republican National Convention when he led delegates in a chant of “lock her up” directed at Clinton.
In March of this year, Flynn reportedly sought immunity against criminal prosecution for himself in exchange for his testimony against Trump-Russia scandal figures before congressional committees. But at the time, the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected Flynn’s request for immunity as “wildly preliminary,” while the House Intelligence Committee also rebuffed Flynn’s request.
Trump himself last year said that seeking immunity is the same as an admission of guilt.
“The reason they get immunity is because they did something wrong. If they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of immunity,” Trump said on the campaign trail. “If you are not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for? Right.”
But in March of this year, Trump had done an about-face on the immunity issue, at least in relation to Flynn, saying that Flynn was right to seek immunity because, Trump claimed, the Russia investigation was a “witch hunt… of historic proportion.”
In March, CNN reported that Flynn was considering offering what could be damaging testimony and cooperating with the FBI in its investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal in exchange for immunity — an immunity deal that could now be set up by his use of his constitutionally guaranteed Fifth Amendment protections.
Trump fired Flynn in February, saying that Flynn had lied about receiving money from Russia to Vice President Mike Pence, who was overseeing Trump’s transition team following Trump’s November election victory. But Pence himself may not have been telling the truth about his own knowledge of Flynn’s Russia ties, as documents show that the campaign was warned about Flynn as early as November of 2016.
[Featured Image By George Frey/Getty Images]