Society

Michael Flynn To Plead The Fifth

| by Robert Fowler

Sources close to former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have disclosed that he plans to refuse the Senate Intelligence Committee's subpoena for his personal records and will instead invoke the Fifth Amendment. The Senate has been investigating Flynn in relation to its probe of the Russian government's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

On May 22, several sources close to Flynn signaled to multiple outlets that the former national security adviser was planning to invoke the Fifth Amendment -- the constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination.

"We will be responding to the Senate Intelligence Committee today," a source told NPR. "We expect to say the general will not providing the requested documents. He is entitled to decline under the Fifth Amendment."

"[Flynn] will not be producing the documents they sought," another source told ABC News. "He is entitled to decline, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment."

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On Feb. 13, Flynn resigned from the White House after media reports revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016. Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the ambassador and then denied it to Pence, The New York Times reports.

On April 28, the Senate Intelligence Committee requested that Flynn provide his personal documents for the committee's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential race. On May 10, after Flynn declined to voluntarily provide the documents, the committee issued a subpoena.

On March 30, Flynn had offered to testify before the Intelligence Community in exchange for immunity. Robert Kelner, the former national security adviser's lawyer, had asserted that the offer was perfectly reasonable.

"No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurance against unfair prosecution," Kelner said at the time, according to NBC News.

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The Senate Committee swiftly rejected Flynn's offer. The former national security adviser’s decision to not honor the committee's subpoena could result in him being held in contempt by the Senate.

Federal criminal defense attorney Todd Bussert of Connecticut noted that while the Fifth Amendment protects a subject of interest from being forced to make incriminating comments, it does not extend to covering comments that the subject might have previously made and chronicled in documents.

"They may have valid Fifth Amendment claims... but they can't refuse to comply with the subpoena for documents," Bussert told the Washington Post. "You have to produce those -- even though those may be incriminating."

Flynn is also under federal investigation for accepting lobbying payments from the Turkish government during the 2016 presidential race despite not registering as a foreign agent, USA Today reports.

Sources: ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, Washington Post / Photo credit: Kristyn Ulanday/Defense Intelligence Agency

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