Dems to Mueller: Flynn Failed to Disclose Trip to Broker Saudi-Russian Business Deal
CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 9/13/2017, 6:32 a.m.
By Manu Raju and Marshall Cohen, CNN
(CNN) -- House Democrats sent special counsel Robert Mueller what they say is evidence that former national security adviser Michael Flynn failed to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East to explore a business deal with the Saudi government and a Russian government agency.
The Democrats allege the retired Army lieutenant general broke the law by omitting the trip, according to the letter they sent to Flynn's former business partners requesting more information about his overseas travels and contacts.
The letter was sent by Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the oversight committee, and New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House foreign affairs committee. No Republicans from the two GOP-led committees signed onto the letter, a copy of which was also sent to Mueller.
Democrats sought information from three American companies in June after Newsweek reported that Flynn traveled to the Middle East in the summer of 2015 to broker a $100 billion deal between the companies, Saudi Arabia and Russia's nuclear power agency. In response, officials from the US companies provided statements to the Democrats, confirming Flynn's trip in 2015.
When Flynn returned to the US several months later and reapplied for his security clearance, he never disclosed the trip or the contacts he had with foreign nationals as part of the trip, the Democrats say.
It is illegal under federal law to knowingly falsify or conceal relevant information from a security clearance form. The Democrats reviewed Flynn's paperwork and subsequent interview with the FBI -- routine practice to get a security clearance -- and said that Flynn never disclosed the summer 2015 trip.
"It appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process," according to the letter from the House Democrats to Flynn's business partners.
Robert Kelner, an attorney for Flynn, declined to comment for this story. But the former national security adviser's attorneys told the House Democrats that they would not respond to their inquiries, saying it would only do so under a "compulsory process," which would require support from House Republicans, according to the Democrats' letter.
Flynn traveled to Egypt and Israel in June 2015 to lobby officials there about the benefits of the proposal, according to a statement given to the Democrats by Dr. Thomas Cochran, a physicist who advised ACU Strategic Partners, one of the American companies involved in the deal.
"I joined General Flynn in Israel," Cochran said in his statement. "The primary purpose of the Israeli leg of the trip was to ensure that the ACU project architecture would be in the best interests of Israel. Because General Flynn firmly believed in the necessity of the project from a U.S. National Security perspective, he traveled to Egypt and Israel to explain the ACU project's importance."
An attorney for ACU Strategic Partners, one of the companies Cummings and Engel have reached out to, provided CNN with a copy of its letter explaining the virtues of the energy project, saying it would bolster national security and provide stability in the Mideast while improving "relations with Russia." A representative for the other company listed, X-Co Dynamics Inc./IronBridge Group, did not respond to a request for comment.