The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced on Tuesday they will subpoena documents from two businesses belonging to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn as part of an investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Tuesday’s subpoenas come amid an escalating dispute between Flynn and the panel after the former top national security aide to President Donald Trump refused to comply on Monday with a subpoena, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Citing the “escalating public frenzy” around Flynn’s role in the Trump campaign and his possible ties to Moscow, lawyers for the retired lieutenant general argued in a letter Monday that the committee’s subpoena had been so broad that it amounted to compelling testimony from their client.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has now crafted two new subpoenas to get around that argument, targeting a limited liability corporation and a separately registered company both under the name Flynn Intel Group. The two business entities are part of a consulting firm Flynn founded after he retired from the military.
“A business does not have a right to take the Fifth,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Tuesday.
In addition to the fresh subpoenas, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said that panel has written to Flynn’s legal team challenging its argument that Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination can be used to ignore a subpoena for documents. Burr said that the committee’s lawyers have supplied Flynn with a narrower set of questions.
Senate investigators are trying to determine the extent of Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials and businessmen in the run-up to Trump’s inauguration. 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.
Flynn has offered to testify before congressional investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution, an offer that was quickly rejected. Burr reiterated on Tuesday that he is not considering providing Flynn with an offer of immunity, and said it was not the Senate Intelligence Committee’s role to make give such a guarantee “in a potential criminal investigation.”
If Flynn continues to refuse to comply with the panel’s subpoenas, he could be held in contempt of Congress, exposing him to potential criminal charges. Burr said he was open to pursuing a contempt charge but hoped to avoid it.
“Everything is on the table,” he told reporters at the Capitol.
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