Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is seeking “assurances against unfair prosecution” in order to provide interviews to congressional panels investigating possible collusion between Trump aides and Moscow, his lawyer said in a written statement.
The statement came after a report in The Wall Street Journal that Flynn has told the FBI and congressional committees he is willing to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,” said Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner. But Kelner said there had been “vicious innuendo” against Flynn in the news media and that “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.”
The FBI is conducting a counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign — an investigation FBI Director James Comey has said could include criminal prosecutions.
The House and Senate intelligence committees are also investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, including possible collusion with Trump aides. Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr said Wednesday his panel is setting up an initial 20 private witness interviews and could seek additional witnesses later.
Kelner acknowledged in his letter that there had been discussions with both committees about interviewing Flynn.
But a spokesman for the House intelligence panel denied that the committee had received a request for immunity from Flynn.
“No, Michael Flynn has not offered to testify to HPSCI in exchange for immunity,” said the spokesman, Jack Langer. A committee aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said Flynn had not offered to testify in exchange for immunity.
Kelner’s statement, though, made clear Flynn has some conditions before he’ll agree to congressional interviews.
Flynn resigned as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser last month after it became clear he had misled his colleagues about the nature of his pre-inauguration phone calls with Russia’s ambassador.
The former three-star Army general also delivered a paid speech in Moscow in 2015 at a gala celebrating the Russian propaganda outlet RT at which he was seated at a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Price Floyd, who was Flynn’s crisis communications director until earlier this week, had no comment Thursday. Floyd also would not comment in recent days about rumors floating around the White House and elsewhere that the former national security adviser was cooperating. Floyd said there was nothing unusual about the timing of his departure as a Flynn spokesman on Monday.
One person close to Flynn said that unless new information becomes available, the retired general’s mistakes were innocent ones that arose out of political and perhaps even legal naiveté, but that shouldn’t create any criminal liability for him.
“I’m not privy to what he is saying to his lawyers or what his lawyers are suggesting to him,” the Flynn associate said. “But I have seen nothing that would lead me to believe that he has made anything but judgment miscues.”
Nevertheless, the associate said Flynn is doing what anyone in his position would do —working with a lawyer to negotiate whatever protections he can, given the ongoing investigations by the FBI and congressional committees. The associate added that despite earlier media reports that the FBI has signaled that Flynn won’t face any charges for his pre-inauguration communications with the Russian ambassador, Flynn has said he was never told that, leaving open that possibility.
“I know of no official at the FBI telling him, ‘Hey, we’re not prosecuting you.’ Only in the press,” the associate said. “If he is talking to them, if he is cooperating,” or considering cooperating, “it is news to me.”
Earlier this month, Flynn filed a belated foreign agent disclosure with the Justice Department, after his lawyer concluded that lobbying work Flynn did last year “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment.