Flynn eyed gains if sanctions fell

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House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) showed no interest Wednesday in further investigating claims a whistleblower brought to the committee's Democrats about promises former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn allegedly made to a business associate about gutting Russian Federation sanctions that been hindering the associate's business project. "I don't think that's the best use of our resources", Gowdy said. He suggested the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia's role in the 2016 US election, take up the matter.

"I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do", Conaway said.

But reports over the last few months have suggested that Flynn continued to promote the project after the election, and even after he had been sworn in as national security adviser. The memo was intended for Trump to sign, though there's no indication the President saw it, the Journal reported.

It is alleged that while sitting a few yards away from the podium where President Trump was delivering his inaugural address on 20 January, Mr Flynn sent the texts to Alex Copson, managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners, a United States nuclear power consultancy.

Cummings said the Flynn whistleblower was "extremely hesitant to come forward - and still fears retaliation" but "feels duty bound as a citizen to make this disclosure". The whistle-blower, Mr. Cummings said, is willing to meet with Mr. Gowdy if he agrees to protect the person's identity.

Media captionAfter Flynn's guilty plea, what next for the Russian Federation investigation?

The whistleblower's story to Cummings starts January 20, Inauguration Day, at an event in D.C. The whistleblower encountered a business partner of Flynn's, Alex Copson of ACU Strategic Partners, which was working on building the reactors.

A lawyer for Mr Flynn, who was sacked after only 24 days as Mr Trump's national security adviser, declined to comment. Mr. Cummings said that Mr. Gowdy should subpoena Mr. Flynn, Mr. Copson and four others to testify before the panel.

"Congress doesn't investigate a crime, and I've had that conversation with Mr. Cummings, and we had it privately", he added.

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Mr Cummings's letter goes on to relate that during the conversation, Mr Copson told the whistle-blower that he "just got a text message" from Flynn that the project was "good to go" and to contact their business colleagues to "let them know to put things in place".

But, according to Cummings, Mueller's directive was dropped after Friday, when Flynn entered into a cooperation agreement with Mueller's team by pleading guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.at the time, Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential transition.

In their letter, the Democrats accused Flynn, who was forced to resign in February over his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, of violating federal law by failing to disclose a trip he took to the Middle East in June 2015 on behalf of the lead company in the nuclear energy project, as well as his contacts with foreign officials.

Three weeks before the inauguration, the outgoing Obama administration had expanded sanctions on Russian Federation to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election that sent Trump to the White House.

Cummings also asked Gowdy to subpoena several of Flynn's business partners, related companies and other administration officials.

Cummings has been critical of his Republican colleague Gowdy's leadership in their investigation of Flynn.

The claims are detailed in a letter by Elijah Cummings, top Democrat on the House oversight committee.

In the letter, Mr. Cummings appeared to try to anticipate an argument that Mr. Gowdy might make - that he can not investigate the whistle-blower's claims as long as Mr. Flynn was still under investigation by Mr. Mueller's team. He and Cummings jointly exposed details that Flynn had lied on his security clearance forms earlier this year, though Chaffetz later backed off the inquiry despite the Democratic demands.

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