WASHINGTON ― Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is so far refusing to cooperate with the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has issued a subpoena for documents related to his interactions with Russian officials.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told reporters Thursday that Flynn’s lawyers have yet to turn over any documents, although there “may be a day or two left” for them to do so.
“Michael Flynn has not cooperated with the committee up to this point,” Burr said, adding, however, that he has not received a “definitive answer” on whether he and his lawyers will comply.
Burr declined to say whether he will hold a contempt of Congress vote regarding Flynn, stating, “I’m not going to go into what we might or might not do. We’ve got a full basket of things we might want to test.”
Flynn’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he wasn’t particularly surprised that Flynn wouldn’t cooperate, noting that if he’s under criminal investigation ― which he doesn’t know whether he is ― he might not be able to comply with what Congress wants.
“If I were his lawyer, I’d probably be making the argument that if I’m under criminal investigation, you cannot force me to compromise myself,” Graham said.
“If he’s under criminal investigation ― I don’t know whether he is or not ― Congress, we’re not prosecutors,” he added. “Probably a good example of criminal investigations stop congressional investigations.”
Trump kept Flynn in the administration long after the White House had been alerted to his ethics issues. Before Trump’s inauguration, Flynn had told the transition team that he was under federal investigation for secretly lobbying for the Turkish government during the campaign, according to The New York Times. Even with this information, Trump named him national security adviser.
Trump continued to keep Flynn on the job after Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, warned the White House that he could be subject to blackmail by the Russians for hiding his contacts with the ambassador.
The president is now under fire for reports that he urged FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation into Flynn during an Oval Office meeting in February. Trump fired Comey last week and admitted that the bureau’s Russia probe was on his mind when he did so.
The House Intelligence Committee also announced Thursday that it has requested documents from the Justice Department and the FBI related to Comey’s dismissal and any conversations between Trump and the former FBI director.
On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named former FBI Director Robert Mueller as the special counsel in charge of investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
According to a Congressional Research Service report, Congress has three methods by which it can deal with Flynn’s non-compliance: It can (1) detain and imprison him until he complies, (2) refer him to the executive branch (in this case, the Department of Justice) for criminal prosecution or (3) seek a civil judgement from a federal court that would compel Flynn to comply.
Sam Stein contributed reporting.