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Former U.S. National Security Adviser Defies Order By Senate Panel Investigating Russia Ties

Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn
Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn

WASHINGTON -- Michael Flynn, the U.S. national security adviser who was fired for misleading the White House about his ties to the Russian government, has refused to turn over documents to a congressional committee investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The decision by Flynn, announced in a May 22 letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, adds to the mystery surrounding both the alleged Russian meddling but also the ongoing FBI investigations of Trump associates.

The Senate committee, which is the lead congressional panel looking into the issue, issued a subpoena to Flynn seeking e-mails and other documents related to any interactions with Russians.

Flynn's lawyer, however, told the committee his client would not do so, citing his legal right against self-incrimination, a bedrock legal protection written into the U.S. Constitution.

That puts him at risk of being held in contempt of Congress, which could result in criminal charges.

Leading members of the Senate committee on May 22 issued a statement saying they were disappointed that Flynn declined to cooperate with the investigation.

"We will vigorously pursue General Flynn's testimony and his production of any and all pertinent materials pursuant to the committee’s authorities," the statement said.

It was signed by the committee's chairman, Republican Richard Burr, and Mark Warner, the top Democrat.

Flynn is also under scrutiny by federal law enforcement officials and the inspector-general of the Defense Department for his ties to both Russia and Turkey.

The FBI probe into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials, meanwhile, was roiled this month when Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey. News reports later said Trump had sought to pressure Comey into dropping the investigation of Flynn.

After an uproar in Congress, the Justice Department named a former FBI director, Robert Mueller, as special counsel to take up the Russia-related investigations.

The Senate committee last week announced that Comey had agreed to testify in an open session as early as May 30.

With reporting by AP
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