By Nathan Layne
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers in the United States on Wednesday asked a congressional committee to issue subpoenas to the White House and three companies for documents on fired national security adviser Michael Flynn.
In a letter to Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, the Democratic panel members said the committee should demand documents that the White House has refused to release despite a bipartisan request in March.
Some of the documents are related to work on a proposal to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East with the participation of Russian companies.
Three companies, Flynn’s consulting firm and two companies he advised on the nuclear project, have not produced documents and communications that minority committee members requested on Sept. 15 and should be forced to cooperate, Democratic members said.
Flynn, a former national security adviser to President Donald Trump, is a central figure in a federal investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump’s advisers colluded with Russia to boost his presidential campaign. Russia has denied interfering in the US elections and Trump has said there was no collusion.
Responding to the Democrats’ request on Wednesday, Gowdy referred the matter to Mueller and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying such allegations against Flynn should be handled by the Justice Department.
“Much of what my fellow Democrats are looking for, if properly investigated, charged, and proven beyond a reasonable doubt, would carry criminal penalties. Congress does not, and
he cannot, prosecute crimes, “Gowdy said in the letter.
Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, declined to comment.
The committee has been investigating whether Flynn fully disclosed payments from foreign sources and travel abroad when he renewed his top-secret security clearance last year.
One of the focuses of the investigation is a trip in June 2015 that Flynn, a former general, took to Israel and Egypt to gauge interest in a plan put forward by a group of scientists, consultants and former military officers to build and provide security. for dozens of nuclear power. plants in the Middle East.
A promotional slide indicates that Rosoboron, a Russian state-owned arms exporter under US sanctions, was to be part of the multi-million dollar project.
Trump fired Flynn in February after a senior Justice Department official warned that the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency could be blackmailed because Moscow knew he made misleading statements about his contacts with Russian officials.
In the letter, Democratic lawmakers argued that subpoenas were needed to determine whether Flynn was promoting the project while in the White House.
“We believe that the paper trail must be followed to answer the gravest question of all: General Flynn sought to change the course of our country’s national security to benefit the same private interests that he previously promoted,” the letter says.
Democrats also pointed to a discrepancy between Flynn’s financial disclosures and statements to the committee by attorneys for IronBridge Group, Inc. and IP3 Corp., two companies created by former Navy Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt and which are promoting one. of the two competing plans. by US consortia for the construction of nuclear reactors in the Middle East.
In an amended disclosure in August, Flynn said he served as an advisor to IronBridge from June 2016 to December 2016, a period that coincided with his work on Trump’s presidential campaign and post-election transition.
Rather, the attorney for IP3 and IronBridge told the committee that the company tried to hire Flynn, but never accepted the offer. The lawyer said that IP3 and IronBridge had parted ways with members of another company, ACU Strategic Partners, and does not involve Russian entities in its nuclear plan.
A spokesperson for IP3 declined to comment.
The ACU, which is pushing for a plan that envisages participation by government and private sector entities from Russia, Ukraine and Israel, among other countries, did not respond to a request for comment.