Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, asserted that Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, should not be granted immunity in exchange for testifying about the Trump campaign's alleged ties to the Russian government.
The chairman also knocked President Donald Trump for characterizing the congressional investigations into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election as a political witch hunt, deeming the comments inappropriate.
On March 30, Flynn's lawyer conveyed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would testify in their probe of Russian meddling in the election as long as he was given immunity from prosecution.
On March 31, Trump took to Twitter to assert that Flynn was right to request an immunity deal, suggesting that he and other members of the 2016 campaign were being demonized by political opponents.
"Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!" Trump tweeted.
Later that morning, Chaffetz dismissed the president's accusation that Flynn was the victim of a political witch hunt, suggesting that the former national security adviser's request for immunity was suspicious.
"No, I don't think it's a witch hunt," Chaffetz told Fox News. "Look, it's very mysterious to me, though, why all of a sudden General Flynn is suddenly out there saying he wants immunity."
Chaffetz, whose committee is not investigating Russia's role in the election, asserted that the congressional Intelligence Committees should not grant Flynn immunity and that it was wrong for Trump to weigh in on the issue.
"I don't think Congress should give him immunity," Chaffetz continued. "If there's an open investigation by the FBI, that should not happen. I also don't believe that, actually, that the president should be weighing in on this."
The Oversight Committee chairman added that it would be irregular for Congress to offer someone immunity before knowing if they had committed any potential crimes.
"Immunity for what?" Chaffetz said. "I mean, we don't know what that is ... We're just trying to get to the facts, wherever that may take us. If all of a sudden you have somebody stand up and say, 'hey, I need immunity,' you know, it kinda raises your eyebrows."
Later that day, an anonymous senior congressional official told NBC News that the Senate Intelligence Committee had rejected Flynn's request for immunity. The committee reportedly told Flynn's lawyer that an immunity arrangement was "wildly preliminary" and "not on the table."
Flynn had served as a national security adviser on the Trump campaign and in the White House. On Feb. 13, he resigned after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Flynn has said that he could not recall whether or not he discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the ambassador, despite having emphatically denied doing so beforehand.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who had been fired by Trump for refusing to defend his executive order on travel, had informed the White House in January that there was evidence that Flynn could potentially be blackmailed by the Russian government, according to The Guardian.
In September 2016, Flynn had blasted several aides of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for receiving immunity during the investigation into her use of a private email server.
"When you are given immunity, that means that you probably committed a crime," Flynn told NBC News at the time.