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Senate Intel Committee Rejects Flynn's Immunity Request

| by Robert Fowler

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reportedly declined to grant former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn immunity in its investigation into the Russian government's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

On March 30, Flynn and his attorney had offered his testimony before the Intelligence Committee in exchange for immunity.

On March 31, two sources told NBC News the Intelligence Committee had rejected the offer.

One anonymous senior congressional official said Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, had been told that it was too early for the Intelligence Committee to offer a immunity and that the deal was "not on the table."

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Another source noted that while the Intelligence Committee did not rule out giving Flynn immunity in the future, they would not accept the request "at this time."

On March 30, Kelner released an official statement asserting that Flynn wanted to disclose information related to the Intelligence Committee's probe into Russia but that the immunity request was not an admission of wrongdoing.

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it ... 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.

That evening, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that Flynn should not be granted immunity before he testifies about Russia.

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"Generally, innocent people don't seek immunity," Swalwell told CNN. "I don't want to hear from him in a setting where there are conditions."

Meanwhile, federal criminal defense attorney Todd Bussert of Connecticut has noted that seeking immunity is routine for anyone involved in a federal probe.

"It's not unusual for anybody who's the subject of a federal investigation to want immunity before speaking to federal authorities," Bussert told The Washington Post. "Even if they've done nothing wrong, there's this fear that something they say could be used against them."

The defense attorney added that Flynn could be requesting immunity from the Senate, which can only guarantee that his testimony would not be used against him, because the Department of Justice would be unlikely to offer him such a deal.

"You would have a difficult time seeing a scenario whereby they would be willing to look the other way if they think he engaged in criminal misconduct," Bussert continued. "They might say, 'Come in and help yourself ... but we're not going to simply let you walk away from this.'"

On Feb. 13, Flynn resigned from the Trump administration after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the substance of phone communications he had had with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak in December 2016.

Flynn has previously suggested that seeking an immunity deal is an admission of guilt. In September 2016, the former national security adviser had blasted the immunity awarded to several aides of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the investigation into her use of a private email server.

"When you are given immunity that means you've probably committed a crime," Flynn said at the time.

Sources: CNNNBC News (2), The Washington Post / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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