The House Oversight Committee is continuing to look through documents connected to the Trump campaign and foreign entanglements. And the same stack of documents that turned up the fact that Trump had the UAE and the Saudis vet his “America First” speech has turned up another interesting little nugget: an admission by Michael Flynn that he did meet with Vladimir Putin in 2015.
Despite images showing Flynn sitting at the same table as the Russian dictator, and video showing Flynn giving Putin a standing ovation on his speech, Flynn had previously stated that he did not really talk with Putin but only “exchanged brief pleasantries.” However, as Politico reports, Flynn wrote in December of 2015 that “I had an interesting trip to Moscow (I did meet with Putin).”
The incident is just one of many such points covered in a new report from the Oversight Committee that focuses on the involvement of Flynn and others in transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. A February report from the committee covered statements from whistleblowers who expressed concern over the connections between the Trump White House and Saudi Arabia. This second report comes as a result of House investigators combing through 60,000 documents, some of which were also reviewed as part of the Mueller investigation.
Flynn is singled out in the report because of his personal connections with both foreign governments and private companies with an interest in transferring nuclear technology. During the campaign period, in both 2015 and 2016, Flynn “worked closely with companies seeking to profit from the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.” That included working directly for IP3 International, a consortium of companies seeking to build nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia. IP3 repeatedly challenged regulations over transferring nuclear technology and identified those limitations as a “challenge to be overcome.”
Flynn didn’t just work for IP3, and he didn’t just meet with Vladimir Putin. Flynn informed his partners at IP3 that he was meeting with Putin along with Middle Eastern officials and “offered to use these contacts to further IP3’s business interests.”
In May, Flynn dismissed the legal team that had nursed him through the Russia investigation and gotten him off with a single charge of lying to the FBI—a charge that was unlikely to lead to a single day in jail. Flynn replaced his legal team with Fox “legal expert” and conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell. Since then, Powell has been making moves toward extracting Flynn from his cooperation agreement with the government, with the apparent intention of reversing his guilty plea.
Republicans, including Trump, have continued to claim that Flynn was in some way framed or forced into testifying to Robert Mueller’s team, and Powell continued that narrative in an email this week, calling Flynn a “great man” who is being “smeared” by Democrats.
But Flynn was none too subtle about his efforts to help Turkish dictator Recep Erdoğan, including writing an op-ed supporting the expulsion of U.S. resident cleric Fethullah Gülen. Flynn was investigated for his part in a scheme to kidnap Gülen and ship him back to sure execution by Erdoğan. Flynn was also guilty of acting as a representative for the Turkish government without filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. And all that was on top of his repeated efforts to sell nuclear technology in the Middle East.
Should Powell actually walk away from the slap-on-the-wrist charge Flynn was awarded for his testimony to the Mueller team—testimony that appears to have produced little of value in the primary investigation—it seems likely that he would be facing a raft of federal charges.
Or he would … if Attorney General William Barr didn’t order U.S. attorneys to leave Flynn alone. Or Trump didn’t pardon him. Both of which seem all too likely.
It’s unclear which, if any, of Flynn’s actions might also be subject to state charges, or whether the House Oversight Committee intends to take further action.