Flynn told a business associate Russian sanctions would be 'ripped up'

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Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told a business associate in January that one of the Trump administration's first priorities would be to "rip up" the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in December, according to a whistleblower who described the incident to a Democratic congressman.

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According to the account detailed in the letter, the whistle-blower had a conversation on Inauguration Day with Alex Copson of ACU Strategic Partners, a company that hired Mr. Flynn in 2015 as an adviser to develop a plan to work with Russian Federation to build nuclear power plants throughout the Middle East. Mr. Flynn served as an adviser until June 2016.

The whistleblower's account is included in a letter from Cummings to Republican chairman Trey Gowdy. According to a photo of the moment that the Democrats dug up, Flynn was standing only a few rows behind Trump and peering into his phone as the president spoke. The whistleblower said he noted the time stamp, but did not read the text.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn told a former business associate "within minutes" of President Donald Trump being sworn in on Inauguration Day that economic sanctions against Russian Federation would be "ripped up" once Trump gets into office, according to a whistleblower.

"I believe the American people want Congress to hold President Trump and his Administration accountable, and they are exhausted of Republicans in Congress putting their heads in the sand when faced with credible allegations of grave abuses while at the same time conducting investigations of allegations against Secretary Clinton that were debunked years ago", Cummings wrote. A lawyer for Mr. Flynn declined to comment. The account was first reported by The New York Times.

Flynn had been a paid consultant for the venture before he joined the Trump campaign a year ago.

One of them, a proposed venture to help Middle Eastern nations build nuclear power plants with assistance from Russian Federation and the US, garnered significant press attention. The texts were timestamped as being sent just as President Trump was delivering his Inaugural Address, the whistleblower said.

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According to Cummings's letter, the witness said he met Alex Copson, Flynn's former business associate, at an inaugural event. "I am going to celebrate today", and added, according to the whistleblower: "This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people".

The unnamed whistleblower's claims pose the strongest evidence yet that the nascent Trump White House was looking to rescind sanctions against Russian Federation and also suggests that Flynn could have had a personal financial stake in the matter.

Neither Gowdy nor Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, responded immediately to a request for comment.

House investigators turned over the information they had gathered to the Mueller team several weeks ago. The plan, backed by a group of investors, nuclear power adherents and former US military officers, was to construct dozens of nuclear reactors across the Mideast working with Russian and other worldwide private interests. The investigators are searching for further evidence that Flynn lobbied from his government job as National Security Advisor for associates who had retained his consulting firm before the election. Flynn said on a federal filing that he served as an advisor to the company between April 2015 and June 2016.

Gowdy has pressed back previously on the demands for records, saying he does not want to impede the Special Counsel investigation.

Gowdy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cummings has argued that the Flynn plea deal should alleviate that concern. Cummings said the whistleblower contacted him in June of this year with the new information.

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