Former CIA director says Russians, WikiLeaks cooperate

Joe Raedle  Getty Images File

Joe Raedle Getty Images File

The top two senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee are questioning whether former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn can invoke the Fifth Amendment to deny them the documents they've requested from him, in relation to their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Tuesday's public hearing represented an effort by the House Intelligence Committee to get its Russian Federation investigation back on track after political squabbling and concerns about information-sharing between its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and White House aides sidelined the committee's work.

While the group says it is pleased with the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the allegations against Trump, it said it would also like to see a select congressional committee involved in the investigation.

He said the most immediate step for himself and his staff was to draw up new subpoenas, but added that they would be doing research about what to do should they "have to go the route of contempt".

The controversy has engulfed Trump's young administration since he fired FBI Director James Comey two weeks ago amid the agency's investigation of possible Russian Federation ties.

"Theres a lot of information that we need to gather about what the President is alleged to have done and what the President's intentions were, before we can reach any conclusions on the legal issues", Schiff said. Trump associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone have provided the committee with information, while former campaign adviser Carter Page has not. Mark Warner, D-Va., put it, "a business does not have the right to take the Fifth".

The demand follows a Senate request months earlier for the campaign committee to preserve documents.

Burr said if there is no response from Flynn his committee may consider a contempt-of-Congress charge.

Burr said the committee was still interested in taking Flynn's testimony. He said this was cause for concern "because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals, and it raised questions in my mind, again, whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals". "We'd like to hear his story because he publicly said he has a story to tell".

Cummings said in a new letter that Flynn appeared to lie about the source of a $33,000 payment from Russia's state-sponsored television network, failed to identify foreign officials with whom he met - including Russia's President Vladimir Putin - and glossed over his firing as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration.

Warner pointed to reports that Trump called Comey a "nut job" in an Oval Office meeting with top Russian officials, saying the comments were "outrageous". But if reports about what Trump shared with the Russians are true, he said, it would be a violation of protocol.

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