Whistleblower To Dems: Flynn Promised Biz Associate He'd Gut Russia Sanctions

Thursday, 07 Dec, 2017

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn promised a business associate before the inauguration of Mr Donald Trump that United States sanctions with Russian Federation would be "ripped up" by the incoming administration, according to a witness account described by House Democrats.

An unnamed colleague of the text message's recipient informed the top Democrat on the House of Representatives' oversight and government reform committee, Elijah Cummings, who published the claims in an open letter yesterday. The change would allow a business venture Flynn had worked on - nuclear power plants - to be built with the former partner.

In the letter to Rep. Trey Gowdy, the panel's GOP chairman, Cummings demanded that Gowdy subpoena documents on the nuclear power plan from the White House, Flynn, Copson, their partners and associates, Reuters reported.

In the letter, Mr. Cummings appeared to try to anticipate an argument that Mr. Gowdy might make - that he can not investigate the whistle-blower's claims as long as Mr. Flynn was still under investigation by Mr. Mueller's team.

The witness told Cummings and committee investigators that Copson shared a text message he had just received from Flynn, who was on stage at the Capitol during Trump's speech.

Flynn allegedly sent the messages to Alex Copson, managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners, a U.S. nuclear power consultancy.

Cummings did not name the whistleblower in the letter, but offered to have Gowdy speak with the person directly.

In his letter, Mr. Cummings also said that his staff had been in consultations with Mr. Mueller's team, which brought the criminal charge against Mr. Flynn. "This is going to make a lot of wealthy people".

An attorney for Flynn did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

During the conversation, Mr. Copson told the whistle-blower that "this is the best day of my life" because it was "the start of something I've been working on for years, and we are good to go".

President Obama first imposed economic sanctions on Russian Federation in 2014, after Russia's military incursions in Crimea and Ukraine, and again last December to punish Russian Federation for its attempts to disrupt the United States presidential election.

The ACU plan involved some two dozen nuclear power plants around the Middle East, to be developed jointly by the United States and Russian Federation.

Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his discussions with the Russian ambassador about sanctions during the transition.

Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Cummings have a long history of clashing publicly over politically charged investigations. The witness could not read the text, but he saw that the time stamp was 12:11 p.m., according Cummings's letter.

Flynn though told Copson that sanctions would be dropped, and he reportedly began circulating the plan to top White House officials within days of the inauguration.

The letter from Cummings concluded with a request to issue subpoenas for "all documents and communications referring or relating" to Flynn's foreign contacts during the Trump campaign, the transition period and his brief time as national security adviser.