Former national security adviser Michael Flynn gave the January 6 Committee bupkis Thursday when he appeared for his closed-door deposition, opting to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The committee investigating the deadly Capitol attack that unfolded in D.C. 14 months ago, issued its initial subpoena to Flynn back in November after reports surfaced that he attended a meeting in the Oval Office with other Trump White House officials to discuss the seizure of voting machines that the Trump campaign deemed fraudulent.
Flynn’s attorney David Warrington described the hearing Thursday as a farce and accused the committee of harassment.
“Most of the questions lacked any relation to the legislative purpose contained in House Resolution 503, and many were clearly sourced from finger news and conspiracy websites and rumors,” Warrington told CNN.
The statement by Warrington echoes just about the only argument that has been offered by allies to the former president who have come under the probe’s microscope. In fact, as injunctions to stop subpoenas have been duked out in federal courts for the last year, courts have found time and again that the committee was properly founded and is properly authorized to conduct its review.
In addition to questions about Flynn’s gambit to have Trump seize voting machines, the committee also wants to learn about his campaign to have Trump declare a national emergency or invoke martial law to pull off the seizure.
[Related: Who’s who: A rolling guide to the targets of the Jan. 6 Committee]
Flynn sued the committee in December to stop its subpoena, saying it violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights. A federal judge rejected the request in just a day, noting that Flynn failed to even notice the committee that he did not intend to cooperate. He also failed to explain why he should be exempt from providing that notice since it's a requirement under federal rules.
By invoking his Fifth Amendment, Flynn is not making an admission of guilt. Invoking the right is a bedrock principle of the Constitution and afforded to all who wish not to incriminate themselves should they speak.
In the Jan. 6 probe, Flynn is far from the only ex-Trump official to invoke this right. Jeffrey Clark, a Trump DOJ attorney, invoked it as he faced more than 100 questions from the committee. Clark pushed to have his superior at the department removed at Trump’s behest when a ploy to declare fraud in Georgia’s election results fizzled.
Conservative attorney John Eastman also invoked his Fifth Amendment. Eastman is now in the middle of a fraught legal battle to keep the committee away from emails sent and received between himself and Trump from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7.
GOP operative Roger Stone has invoked the right as well as right-wing bombast Alex Jones.
[Related: Alex Jones might be the undoing of Alex Jones]
Flynn’s decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right may not be good for the committee but it is prudent. Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements after it emerged in 2017 that he lied to the FBI and then Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn was fired from his national security role at the White House and later pardoned by the former president.