Whistleblower: Flynn texts broached nuclear plan, sanctions

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 08 December 2017 02:37.


A whistleblower has told House Democrats that eleven minutes into Donald Trump’s inaugural speech, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn [shown inset] was texting a former business associate to say, “we’re going to rip-up those (Russian) sanctions and a lot of people are going to make a lot of money.” Flynn specified that their private nuclear proposal which Flynn had lobbied for would have his support in the White House.

TampaBayTimes, “Whistleblower: Flynn texts broached nuclear plan, sanctions”, 6 Dec 2017:

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Donald Trump delivered his presidential inaugural address last January, his national security adviser Michael Flynn told a former business associate in text messages that a private plan to build nuclear reactors in the Mideast was “good to go” and that U.S. sanctions hobbling the plan would soon be “ripped up,” a whistleblower told congressional investigators.

The witness did not specify which sanctions Flynn was referring to in his texts. But the nuclear project that Flynn and his business associate had worked on together was stymied by U.S. financial sanctions on Russia.

The witness’s account, made public Wednesday by the ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, raises new concerns about the extent to which Flynn may have blurred his private and public interests during his brief stint inside the White House.

Trump fired Flynn in February, saying he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, pleaded guilty in federal court last week to one count of making false statements to the FBI and is now a cooperating witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Russian intermediaries during the 2016 election.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Wednesday the whistleblower’s allegations raise concerns that Flynn improperly aided the nuclear project after joining the White House as one of Trump’s top national security officials. The project has yet to get off the ground.

Cummings detailed the whistleblower’s allegations in a letter to committee chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and urged Gowdy to authorize subpoenas to Flynn and his business associates to learn more about his efforts.

In a reply late Wednesday, Gowdy said he had shared Cummings’ letter with Rep. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the chairman and ranking Democrat heading the House intelligence committee inquiry into Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Gowdy spurned Cummings’ request for subpoenas, echoing his replies to previous Cummings subpoena requests.

“If you have evidence of a crime, you should provide it to the Special Counsel immediately,” Gowdy wrote.

Flynn had been a paid consultant for the venture before he joined the Trump campaign last year. The plan, backed by a group of investors, nuclear power adherents and former U.S. military officers, was to construct dozens of nuclear reactors across the Mideast with aid from Russian and other international private interests.

House Democrats noted that a federal ethics law requires White House officials to refrain for a year from dealing with any outside interests they had previously worked with on private business.

“Our committee has credible allegations that President Trump’s national security adviser sought to manipulate the course of international nuclear policy for the financial gain of his former business partners,” Cummings said.

The whistleblower told House Democrats that while Trump spoke in January, Flynn texted from the Capitol steps to Alex Copson, the managing director of ACU Strategic Partners and the nuclear project’s main promoter. The whistleblower, whose identity was not revealed in Cummings’ letter, said that during a conversation, Copson described his messages with Flynn and briefly flashed one of the texts, which appeared to have been sent 10 minutes after Trump was sworn in as president.

“Mike has been putting everything in place for us,” Copson said, according to the whistleblower. Copson added that “this is going to make a lot of very wealthy people.” The whistleblower also said that Copson intimated that Flynn would ensure that U.S. financial sanctions hobbling the nuclear project were going to be “ripped up,” allowing investment money to start flowing into the project.

Attorneys for Flynn and Copson did not immediately return email and phone requests for comment. White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment on the allegation.

In Flynn’s plea agreement last week, prosecutors said he lied to FBI agents about his discussions on sanctions against Russia with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition.

Copson had promoted a succession of nuclear projects designed to include Russian participation dating back to the 1990s. In an earlier note to the committee, Copson said his firm had provided Flynn with a $25,000 check — left uncashed — and paid for Flynn’s June 2015 trip to the Mideast as a security consultant for the project.

Flynn’s financial disclosure did not cite those payments, but he did report that until December 2016, he worked as an adviser to two other companies that partnered with Copson’s firm. That consortium, X-Co Dynamics Inc. and Iron Bridge Group, initially worked with ACU but later pushed a separate nuclear proposal for the Mideast.

___

Associated Press writers Chad Day and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.

NewsWeek, “Flynn’s Secret Text Messages Show Trump Colluded With Russia, Experts Say”, 6 Dec 2017:

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, told a former business partner that economic sanctions against Russia would be “ripped up” as soon as Donald Trump took office, according to an anonymous whistleblower.

The revelation is the latest evidence suggesting the Trump campaign may have agreed to help Russia in exchange for Russia’s help getting Trump elected president, experts say.

Special counsel Robert Mueller had already secured Flynn’s cooperation in his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, and Wednesday’s revelation publicly provides new evidence that will embolden Trump critics, experts say.

“It won’t come as a surprise to the special counsel, but it reveals to the public that there was something in the nature of an exchange or quid pro quo,” Lisa Griffin, a law professor at Duke University, told Newsweek.

“There are at least four potential avenues of criminality that the special counsel and others are exploring, and this provides more circumstantial evidence,” Griffin continued. “This might be relevant to the possibility of a bribery case, or assistance with the campaign that was done in exchange for what the Russians want most: the easing of sanctions.”

Whistleblower: Flynn was doing private Russia-related business on his phone during Trump’s inauguration speech https://lnkd.in/d2STwWp
7:52 PM - Dec 6, 2017

Flynn Was Conducting Private Russia-Related Business on His Phone During Trump’s Inauguration Speech, Whistleblower Tells Congress.

Flynn pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador at the time, including speaking with him about U.S. sanctions against Russia. Flynn is known to have maintained close business ties with people in Russia and Turkey.

According to the whistleblower, Flynn also wanted U.S. sanctions against Russia lifted in order to complete an international energy project he was working on. The whistleblower said Flynn texted his former business associate on the day of Trump’s inauguration to say that the project was “good to go.”

The information was given to Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who published an open letter on Wednesday to the committee’s chairman, Trey Gowdy, explaining the revelations.

“General Michael Flynn—within minutes of Donald Trump being sworn in as president—was communicating directly with his former business colleagues about their plans to work with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East,” the letter reads.

“Our committee has credible allegations that President Trump’s national security advisor sought to manipulate the course of international nuclear policy for the
financial gain of his former business partners,” Cummings continued. “These grave allegations compel a full, credible and bipartisan congressional investigation.”

Flynn Was Conducting Private Russia-Related Business on His Phone During Trump’s Inauguration Speech, Whistleblower Tells Congress.

The revelation is one of the strongest pieces of evidence to date that the Trump administration wanted to cancel U.S. sanctions against Russia, and it sheds light on why Flynn originally lied about his conversation with the Russian ambassador, a former Watergate prosecutor says.

Ibid:

“This just confirms the materiality of Flynn’s lies about what happened during the elections. This confirms that there is a quid pro quo for Russian help with winning the elections,” Nick Akerman told Newsweek. He was an assistant special prosecutor during the Watergate investigation.

The whistleblower first approached Cummings after Newsweek published an account of Flynn’s role in pursuing a joint U.S.-Russian plan to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East, according to the letter.

Cummings reportedly chose not to go public with the information because Mueller asked him to delay acting on it until the special counsel completed his investigation. Cummings decided to go public with the information after Flynn agreed to cooperate with Mueller. 

President Barack Obama first imposed economic sanctions on Russia in 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea and began supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine. New sanctions were levied in December 2016 to punish Russia for its attempts to disrupt the U.S. election. 

In June 2016, the Trump campaign was directly lobbied by a Kremlin-linked Russian lawyer, who met with Donald Trump Jr. and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, among others, to discuss lifting human rights sanctions.



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