The House Intelligence Committee will subpoena former Trump adviser Michael Flynn after he refused to cooperate with the panel’s investigation into Trump campaign ties with Russia.
“We will be following up with subpoenas and those subpoenas will be designed to maximize our chances of getting the information we need,” Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.
Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to provide documents to the Senate Intelligence Committee, prompting that panel to warn that he could face criminal contempt-of-Congress charges if he does not comply.
The House Intelligence Committee subpoenas would be the first by the House panel targeting Flynn, who faces potential criminal charges for a number of actions, including failure to register as a foreign agent and failure to seek Pentagon permission to receive money for a Moscow speaking engagement.
Schiff said that, like the Senate panel, the House will seek to sidestep Fifth Amendment issues by subpoenaing Flynn’s businesses.
“The Fifth Amendment right not to provide materials or documents is limited,” Schiff said at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor in Washington. “So we have to pursue what we can get from Mr. Flynn or his businesses in whatever means that we need to.”
Flynn, a top adviser to candidate Trump before becoming national security adviser, was paid more than $33,000 in 2015 to speak at a Moscow gala where he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump later fired Flynn for reportedly lying about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn has expressed a willingness to testify in exchange for immunity, but Schiff said there was little chance the House committee would agree to that.
“That’s not something I think we would entertain until far later, if at all,” Schiff said.
Any deal involving immunity would require discussion with Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed last week to oversee the criminal investigation into Russia’s meddling in last year’s U.S. presidential election.
Schiff said the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation was back on track after the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes of California, stepped aside as a result of an ethics investigation. Rep. Michael Conaway, a Republican from Texas, is now leading the probe.
“We’re doing things we need to be doing” in the investigation, Schiff said. “I’d still like to do them faster.”
Schiff said the congressional investigations were vital because the FBI’s probe wouldn’t be public beyond possible indictments. The public has to know what happened, he said, because election-related hacking will continue and the best defense is for voters to understand what took place during last year’s campaign.
“The reality is that with a technologically capable adversary like the Russians there is no software patch, no cyber hygiene, that’s going to be sufficient as a defense,” Schiff said. “If the Russians want to get into the (Democratic National Committee) again they will be able to get in, or the RNC or just about any other private institution and a lot of public ones.”