The most recent high profile development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump team over possible ties to Russia was former national security adviser to the president Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about having discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the now former Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.
Flynn was revealed to have a new reason to worry on Wednesday. Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings revealed in a publicly available letter to House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy that a “whistleblower” had come forward with evidence that Flynn had been in communication with former business associates of his after Trump’s inauguration, telling them that U.S. sanctions on Russia would soon be “ripped up.” The relevance of this to those business associates was that they were apparently trying to go forward on a project with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East.
Now, Rep. Cummings is upset that Rep. Gowdy has suddenly begun to claim to have some sort of restraint when it comes to investigating serious matters and doesn’t want to interview the whistleblower. (Gowdy was involved with the long and overly drawn out Clinton email investigation.)
After Gowdy’s refusal, Rep. Cummings issued a biting statement directed at him, saying:
‘It is astonishing to me that you, as the sitting Chairman of the Oversight Committee, are declining to meet with a whistleblower who has agreed to come forward—despite fear of retaliation—to speak directly with you about evidence relating to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his plan to lift sanctions in order to work with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East.’
Gowdy’s defense for his refusal to interview the whistleblower was that he believes that the matter at hand falls into the jurisdiction of the House Intelligence Committee, which he also sits on.
However, as Cummings noted in his original letter requesting subpoenas for relevant documents and individuals related to Flynn’s alleged support of Russia building nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, the House Oversight Committee has examined elements of the Flynn case in the past. Cummings and the now former House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who is no longer in Congress, jointly revealed that Flynn had seemingly lied on his security clearance paperwork earlier in the year.
Cummings defended the credibility of his witness in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this Thursday morning, saying that they felt “duty bound” as a citizen of this country to share the information they had received about Flynn’s activities with his committee.
It’s worth noting that Flynn, at the time he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, revealed he was cooperating with Mueller’s investigation in exchange for leniency in his sentencing, so it’s pretty clear that he has items to worry about like, perhaps, these alleged communications of his with former business associates of his.
Some have suggested that Flynn being let off the hook means that he has information on someone even higher up in the hierarchy of the president’s inner circle than he is, perhaps even the president himself.
Featured Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images