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Michael Flynn’s nuclear role complicates the federal investigation into Russian interference in 2016 USA election

Michael Flynn’s role in Middle Eastern nuclear project could compound legal issues, Chicago Tribune, 27 Nov 17  Michael Kranish, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. LeonnigWashington Post In June 2015, retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn took a little-noticed trip to Egypt and Israel, paid for by a U.S. company he was advising. The company hoped to build more than two dozen nuclear plants in the region in partnership with Russian interests.

Flynn’s quiet involvement in that project – and his failure to disclose his ties to the effort – could complicate the legal issues facing President Trump‘s former national security adviser, who has signaled he may be willing to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Congressional Democrats say that Flynn may have violated federal law by failing to disclose the Middle Eastern trip in his security clearance renewal application in 2016. A top House Republican declined the Democrats’ request for a congressional inquiry but referred the allegations to the special counsel.

Last month, Mueller revealed that his wide-ranging investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has led to charges against three former Trump campaign officials. One of them, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, has been cooperating, according to court filings.

There are now signs that Flynn – whose international dealings have been the subject of intense interest by the special counsel – may also be willing to share information with prosecutors. Last week, his attorney shut down communications with Trump’s legal team, a development many interpreted as suggesting possible cooperation with Mueller.

Investigators for the special counsel have been examining whether Flynn hid foreign business dealings, particularly work he did for Turkish interests during the campaign, according to people familiar with the probe.

The nuclear venture is yet another instance in which Flynn appeared to have a personal stake in an international project while he was advising Trump in 2016, giving prosecutors one more potential avenue to pressure him to cooperate.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment. An attorney for Flynn declined to comment.

“General Flynn’s actions are part of a broader pattern of concealing his foreign contacts, payments, travel, and work on behalf of foreign interests,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. “The bigger question is this: What did President Trump know and why did he disregard all the red flags?”

The White House declined to comment.

Flynn served as an adviser to two Washington-based companies pursuing efforts to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East: ACU Strategic Partners, which proposed a partnership with Russian interests, and IP3/IronBridge, which later launched a separate endeavor that initially proposed working with China to build the infrastructure, according to federal documents and company officials………

It is a criminal offense to knowingly omit material information requested by federal officials conducting such a review.

An attorney for Flynn’s company told the committee that it would not provide documents about the Middle Eastern nuclear project unless it is subpoenaed, according to the letter.

Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, declined to issue a subpoena and instead referred the Democrats’ concerns to Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

“Much of what is sought by my Democratic colleagues — if properly investigated charged and proven beyond a reasonable doubt — would carry criminal penalties,” Gowdy wrote in his Oct. 18 letter, posted by the committee. “Congress does not, and cannot, prosecute crimes.”…….

Flynn, who was fired by President Obama from his post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, became involved in ACU’s project in 2015, part of a group of former top military and diplomatic officials and nuclear experts the company assembled to help push its plan.

The idea: to build several dozen “proliferation-proof” nuclear power plants across Persian Gulf states. The plan relied heavily on Russian interests, which would help build the plants, as well as possibly take possession of spent fuel that could be used to build a nuclear weapon, according to people familiar with the project.

ACU’s managing director, Alex Copson, had been promoting variations of building nuclear facilities with Russian help for more than two decades, according to news reports. Copson did not respond to requests for comment, and ACU’s counsel, Don Gross, declined to comment.

ACU officials declined to identify its investors or answer questions on the record from The Post about whether it has foreign backing………

Around June 2016, according to his financial disclosure, Flynn ended his association with ACU and began advising a company called IP3/IronBridge, co-founded by retired Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt, a former ACU adviser.

IP3 initially proposed partnering with China and other nations on building nuclear power plants, rather than Russia, according to a company spokesman, who said the China component has since been dropped.

In August 2016, the company produced a PowerPoint presentation that included Flynn’s photo and former government title on a page titled, “IP3/IronBridge: Formidable US Leadership.” The document was labeled as a “Presentation to His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz” of Saudi Arabia and displayed the seals of Saudi Arabia and the United States. The presentation was obtained by Democrats on the House Oversight committee, who made it public……..http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-michael-flynn-middle-east-nuclear-project-20171127-story.html

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November 29, 2017 - Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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