Whistleblower: Flynn told ex-partner Russian Federation sanctions would be ripped up

Jabin Botsford  The Washington Post  Getty Images

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn promised a business associate before the inauguration of Mr Donald Trump that U.S. sanctions with Russian Federation would be "ripped up" by the incoming administration, according to a witness account described by House Democrats.

Cummings this week wrote a letter to Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, to ask that the whistleblower's claims be fully investigated.

Flynn also informed the associate that his business partners could move forward with their project, which aimed to construct a network of nuclear reactors across the Mideast with support from Russian and other worldwide interests, the whistleblower said.

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.

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Attorneys for Flynn and Copson did not immediately return email and phone requests for comment.

"I am going to celebrate today" Copson said, according to the whistle-blower.

The letter tells Gowdy it is hard to discern what happened because he would not subpoena Flynn, the White House, or Copson.

Cummings said the whistleblower, whom he did not identify in the letter, "fears retaliation", but would speak with Gowdy if he agrees to protect the whistleblower's identity.

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The whistleblower told House Democrats that while Trump spoke at his inauguration, Flynn texted from his seat on the Capitol steps to Alex Copson, the managing director of ACU Strategic Partners and the nuclear project's main promoter.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general and former high-ranking intelligence officer, pleaded guilty last week to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his discussions with the then-Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, about the sanctions that day after they were imposed. Copson added that "this is going to make a lot of very wealthy people".

Flynn was involved in the Middle Eastern nuclear project from spring 2015 to the end of 2016, according to recent financial disclosure filings, a period that overlapped with his role as a prominent adviser to Trump's campaign and transition.

Mr Copson had allegedly shown the Flynn text message to the source, according to the congressman. Flynn originally told the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the issue of sanctions had not come up in his conversation.

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On December 29, the day the Obama administration imposed new sanctions and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. in retaliation for Moscow's election meddling, Flynn called Kislyak and asked that Russia not escalate the situation, according to court documents. He also lied when he said he did not recall a follow-up conversation with the ambassador, who said that "Russia had chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of Flynn's request". The plea made clear that Flynn was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian officials during the presidential election.

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