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By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Michael Flynn (Image source: Public domain)
While former national security adviser Michael Flynn had a plea deal with former special counsel Robert Mueller's office, forcing him to comply with that investigation, he doesn't seem to think that plea deal should also include his testimony to Congress.
The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Flynn back in June, but he never complied and is now being ordered to appear on September 25 and turn over documents by September 18, according to a letter Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent to Flynn.
Flynn was a part of Donald Trump's administration for just days before he was fired for lying to the FBI and Vice President Mike Pence. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying about a meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak while agreeing to work with investigators. His sentencing has been delayed numerous times because of his ongoing cooperation.
Schiff initially subpoenaed Flynn along with Paul Manafort's second-in-command, Rick Gates, who is also under a plea deal. The chairman found it "unacceptable" that neither of the two men had appeared before his panel, though he noted neither of them was required to as part of their plea agreements.
Earlier this year Flynn hired a new legal team and consequently has changed his stance on his legal matters. He accused federal prosecutors of withholding documents and audio recordings that relate to his criminal charge as well as the Mueller investigation.
"General Flynn and his counsel have failed to cooperate with the Committee in all respects — he has provided no documents in response to our subpoena, nor has he engaged with the Committee in an appropriate or satisfactory manner," said a committee staffer.
In June Schiff recognized that neither Gates nor Flynn were required to testify before his panel because of their plea deals, yet he also said, "We hope these witnesses come to recognize their cooperation as being with the United States, not merely the Department of Justice."
However, after Schiff sent his letter to Flynn on Friday, a committee staffer said, "General Flynn and his counsel have failed to cooperate with the Committee in all respects — he has provided no documents in response to our subpoena, nor has he engaged with the Committee in an appropriate or satisfactory manner."
The staffer added that "General Flynn agreed to cooperate with the United States government, which should include the Congress. And while we cannot evaluate whether he has met his obligation to the Justice Department, there is no question that he has thus far failed to cooperate with the Congress in any meaningful way,"
In Schiff's letter, he said Flynn's attorney, Sidney Powell, told the panel that Flynn was "not in a position to testify" until his criminal charges are resolved, and if he is called to testify, he "will invoke the Fifth Amendment."
Schiff responded by telling Powell that the former official's "blanket invocation of the Fifth Amendment" was not adequate without a discussion of what topics would be discussed when he testifies.
Last month Flynn's new attorneys claimed federal prosecutors withheld evidence that relates to Flynn's criminal case. This claim reached into the territory of conspiracy theories, accusing prosecutors of suppressing evidence, while focusing on contacts Mueller's office had with former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, and former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
Prosecutors contend Flynn could be sentenced in October or November, and a status hearing on his case is scheduled for Tuesday.
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