Flynn faces new allegation amid Russia probe

WASHINGTON • Democratic lawmakers are probing whether retired United States general Michael Flynn secretly promoted a US-Russian project to build dozens of nuclear reactors in the Middle East after becoming President Donald Trump's first national security adviser.

Representatives Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel made the disclosure in a letter they sent on Tuesday to Mr Flynn's lawyer and executives of firms that developed the reactor scheme and for which Mr Flynn's now-defunct consulting company worked.

"The American people deserve to know whether General Flynn was secretly promoting the private interests of these businesses while he was a (Trump) campaign adviser, transition official, or President Trump's national security adviser," the two said in the letter made public yesterday.

They asked Mr Flynn's lawyer and executives of companies involved in the project to provide "all communications" they had with Mr Flynn or other administration officials during last year's campaign, the post-election transition or Mr Flynn's tenure as national security adviser.

Mr Robert Kelner, Mr Flynn's lawyer, declined to comment.

The project proposed to construct 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East that would feed a regional electric grid. The reactors would be "proliferation proof", meaning they could not be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

Mr Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Mr Engel, the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, asked that the documents be provided by Oct 4.

Mr Flynn is a central figure in a federal probe led by special counsel Robert Mueller, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, into whether Trump aides colluded in an alleged Russian effort to boost Mr Trump's presidential campaign.

Russia has denied interfering in the US election, and Mr Trump has said there was no collusion.

Mr Trump, who took office on Jan 20, fired Mr Flynn on Feb 13 - 18 days after a top Justice Department official warned that the former Defence Intelligence Agency director could be blackmailed because Moscow knew he had made misleading statements about his contacts with Russian officials.

Mr Cummings and Mr Engel sent their letter as part of an inquiry into the renewal of Mr Flynn's top-secret security clearance last year.

They said Mr Flynn had failed to disclose a June 2015 trip he made to Egypt and Israel to promote the reactor project to investigators reviewing his renewal application, and that he also did not list the foreigners he met. They said replies from the executives and Mr Kelner to a June letter confirmed that Mr Flynn made the trip.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Flynn faces new allegation amid Russia probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe