Trump Says Flynn Right To Seek Immunity, Calls Russia Probe 'Witch-Hunt'
RFE/RL March 31, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump has backed an offer by his former national security adviser to testify about his contacts with Russia in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution.
In a post on Twitter on March 31, Trump wrote, "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!"
Earlier, Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, said that his client wanted protection against "unfair prosecution" in exchange for testifying before the intelligence committees of both houses of Congress.
"Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit," Kelner said.
Kelner did not mention whether Flynn was offering to talk to the FBI as well as to the committees.
Kelner also called the Russia probes a "witch-hunt."
Meanwhile, Senator Angus King (independent-Maine), of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was too early to talk about granting Flynn immunity.
"This is not a witch-hunt," King said on CNN. "This is an effort to get to the truth of some very important questions."
King said that "there is no doubt whatsoever" that the Russians sought to interfere in the election.'
Speaking in the northern Russia city of Arkhangelsk on March 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin vehemently denied the allegations, saying in response to a question about whether Russia carried out any such actions, "Read my lips: No."
A spokesman for the Senate committee was quoted as saying the body had held a discussion on the immunity issue, while a spokesman for the House committee said they had not received any offer from Flynn.
According to AP, four other people associated with the Trump campaign have offered to speak to the committees in recent weeks. The Senate Intelligence Committee has invited 20 people to testify.
Flynn, a retired U.S. Army general, resigned under pressure from his post as national security adviser in February after it was revealed that he misled the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, about the extent of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
The Congressional committees and the FBI are investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Documents also show that Flynn was paid more than $67,000 by Russian companies before the U.S. presidential election.
During an interview in September 2016 with the Meet The Press television program, Flynn was asked about the possibility that Trump's Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or her associates might seek immunity in connection with an FBI investigation into her use of a private e-mail server.
"When you are given immunity, that means you have probably committed a crime," Flynn said.
With reporting by AP and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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