The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee expressed “skepticism” about the immunity request by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn amid the congressional probes and FBI investigation of President Trump’s former national security adviser.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff said it’s difficult to determine what Mr. Flynn knows and whether his testimony would shed any light on potential collusion between members of the Trump campaign with Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential race.
“We also have to determine whether he can really add value to our investigation, whether we need him to learn information we can’t learn from other sources,” Mr. Schiff said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So it’s very early, I think, even to be considering this. There’s a lot more work we need to do, and I think we’re properly bringing a degree of skepticism along with us.”
The California Democrat also said the ongoing Justice Department inquiry into Mr. Flynn makes a grant of immunity dubious.
“We don’t want to do anything that will interfere in any case that the Department of Justice may decide to bring,” he said.
Mr. Flynn tendered his resignation only weeks into the new presidency after it emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with a Russian ambassador during the transition period.
Since then, Mr. Flynn has become a central figure in the fallout from Russia’s involvement in the presidential race. FBI Director James B. Comey testified last month that there is an ongoing investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign are linked to the Kremlin’s efforts.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Mr. Flynn is willing to testify before Congress if he is given immunity from federal prosecution, and his lawyer confirmed negotiations about his testimony.
In a tweet Friday, President Trump encouraged Congress to approve the request because Mr. Flynn had become the target of a “witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!”
Mike Rogers, the former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he would not grant Mr. Flynn’s request.
“If I were the committees, I wouldn’t grant immunity,” Mr. Rogers said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, said the request “tells us there’s something deep and seriously wrong here.”
“I would just say that I worked in plenty of presidential campaigns; I never, ever met with Russians, Russian assets, Russian government officials,” Ms. Tanden said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
When asked Friday whether the White House was concerned about what could be revealed in Mr. Flynn’s testimony, press secretary Sean Spicer gave a one-word reply: “Nope.”
Also at issue is the impartiality of the House Intelligence Committee investigation.
Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, created a political maelstrom by briefing the president and holding press conferences to disclose that the intelligence community had “incidentally collected” surveillance on members of the Trump transition.
Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, called the series of events “bizarre” and said Mr. Nunes had injected partisan politics into the investigation.
“If we’re really going to get to the bottom of these things, it’s got to be done in a bipartisan fashion,” Mr. McCain said on ABC’s “This Week.” “And, as far as I could tell, Congressman Nunes killed that.”
Mr. Rogers, who was chairman during the House committee’s investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, said he would have handled the situation “completely” differently than Mr. Nunes.
During the Benghazi investigation, he said the committee “didn’t run out [to the press] every time we got a new document and [say] this happened or that happened.”
He said the committee and Mr. Trump should be more careful about making public statements about an ongoing investigation.
“If this is really an investigation, everyone needs to clam up candidly, including the president,” he said. “The most dangerous place in Washington, D.C., right now is between a congressman who has read a classified report and a microphone. That needs to stop. And it’s both sides.”
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