Trump's ex-NSA Flynn seeks immunity in Russia probe

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 31 (IANS) Former US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has said he is willing to testify before federal and congressional investigators in their ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the US elections, but only if he is granted immunity.

But a congressional official said investigators were unwilling to broker a deal with Flynn until they understand what information Flynn might offer as part of a deal, reported the New York Times.

The former NSA resigned last month for misleading White House officials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak.

In a statement on Thursday, Flynn's lawyer confirmed discussions with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about possible testimony by Flynn.

Flynn's lawyer Robert Kelner said that "no reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly-politicised, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution".

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit," the statement said.

On Friday morning, US President Donald Trump urged Flynn to ask for immunity to protect himself from a "witch hunt".

"Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!" Trump tweeted.

The Wall Street Journal reported Flynn's offer to testify.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating whether any of Trump's advisers colluded with the Russian government in its efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election.

An immunity deal would make it extraordinarily difficult for the Justice Department to prosecute Flynn, said the daily.

Asked about Flynn's offer, Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said the Russian government has not given it "any evaluations".

He pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin's comments on Thursday in which he dismissed claims that Russia meddled in the US election as "fictional, illusory, provocations and lies".

Three former Trump aides who are at the centre of the federal investigation into Russia's interference in the US elections have already come forward and said they would testify freely, without the promise of immunity.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former adviser Roger Stone and former foreign policy adviser Carter Page all said, via their lawyers, last week that they were ready to come before House and Senate investigators.

--IANS

soni/vt