Schiff Calls Flynn Immunity Request 'Grave & Momentous'


Congressional investigators on Friday rebuffed former national security adviser Michael Flynn's offer of cooperation in exchange for immunity, saying it's too early in their probe of his Russian Federation connections to discuss a deal.

Congressional committees and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also looking into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election campaign.

However, testimony from Flynn could help shed light on the conversations he had in 2016 with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States, while national security adviser for Trump's presidential campaign.

Trump weighed in Friday, tweeting that Flynn "should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!"

The New York Times quoted a congressional official as saying investigators were wary of cutting a deal with Flynn until they were further along in their probe and had a better idea of what information Flynn might offer.

In September, while discussing aides to Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, Flynn told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that "when you are given immunity that means you've probably committed a crime".

Mr Schiff said the panel would discuss any request with the Justice Department and the Senate Intelligence Committee, describing such a request "a grave and momentous step".

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But as one Democrat argued, if the committee is determined to bring to light any ties Trump's inner circle may have to Russian Federation, the president himself must release his tax returns.

The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat says a request by the fired U.S. national security adviser for immunity to testify to the panel is "momentous".

It's entirely possible the immunity request is nothing more than the former senior Trump adviser attempting to insulate himself from legal trouble if he were to answer detailed questions about his foreign contacts and lobbying efforts.

"The president is very clear that he wants Mike Flynn to go and be completely open and transparent with the committee and whatever it takes to do that he is supportive of", Spicer replied.

"It means that whatever you think is going on, or indictments that the law may be coming at you with, something you think that you've done wrong - you ask for immunity", Nance said.

Beyond the news reports of ongoing conversations between Mr Flynn's lawyer and federal investigators, however, there is no firm ground for such speculation.

Since July, the FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's interference in the election and possible coordination with Trump associates.

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He said Mr Trump wanted Mr Flynn to testify to "get this matter behind us" but declined to say specifically that he should be granted immunity.

Congress has the authority to grant someone immunity, but doing so could jeopardize the Justice Department's ability to use that testimony as the basis for any criminal case it might want to bring.

"As with any investigation - and particularly one that grows in severity and magnitude by the day - there is still much work and many more witnesses and documents to obtain before any immunity request from any witness can be considered", Schiff said Friday in a statement.

Nance was referring to a Wall Street Journal report that claimed Flynn spoke with Turkish government officials about how to get Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric exile living in Pennsylvania, out of the USA without following the extradition process.

The Justice Department, too, can offer different forms of immunity.

Kelner added, "No reasonable person ... would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution".

In February, Flynn was made to resign from his post as security adviser after he deceived Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to CNN.

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