Unique: Flynn deposition reveals questions on stress on U.S. intelligence forward of Jan. 6

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New audio recordsdata obtained by CBS Information reveal how a congressional investigator pushed retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the previous nationwide safety adviser to former President Donald Trump, to testify about his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and questioned Flynn about whether or not he pressured navy and intelligence officers to help him with that endeavor.

The audio recordsdata are the most recent window into the work of the Home choose committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol and its try and be taught extra in regards to the extent of Flynn’s contacts with protection and intelligence officers.

Flynn’s exercise has lengthy been a focal point for the committee, based on two folks acquainted with the Jan. 6 panel who weren’t licensed to talk publicly, and it has probed witnesses about whether or not Flynn pressured folks working inside the federal government as he supported Trump on the surface.   

The committee’s line of inquiry within the Flynn deposition seems to hunt specificity in regards to the extent to which Flynn sought out officers, in addition to the motivation of any outreach, particulars on any suggestions he made or paperwork he circulated, and whether or not he was paid or performing on the behest of Trump or others.

The committee is scheduled to launch a last report on Wednesday, following a procedural assembly on Monday. In the course of the assembly, the panel is planning to think about whether or not to induce the Justice Division to pursue felony costs in opposition to Trump and others for what they see as fomenting an rebel and for conspiring to defraud the U.S. authorities, based on the 2 folks acquainted with the committee who weren’t licensed to talk publicly. 

As a consequence of his excessive profile and continued help from right-wing teams that tried to dam the certification of President Joe Biden’s election, Flynn was issued a subpoena by the committee early within the investigation as a possible key witness. However Flynn declined throughout his March 10, 2022 deposition to supply any remarks of observe about his conduct and as an alternative repeatedly invoked his proper in opposition to self-incrimination as outlined within the Fifth Modification. 

Nonetheless, the questions requested of Flynn present a prism into the committee’s investigative targets on the time because it labored to map out the sprawling community of Trump associates who have been pursuing varied methods to maintain Trump within the presidency. 

Flynn’s legal professional, Jesse R. Binnall, mentioned in a press release that Flynn believes the Jan. 6 Committee is engaged in a “witch hunt.”

“When the January sixth Committee engaged in political theater to harass an American hero, Basic Flynn availed himself of his constitutional rights below the Fifth Modification, upon the recommendation of counsel,” Binnall mentioned in a press release to CBS Information. “That he selected to not dignify their absurd questions and baseless conspiracy theories with a response was essential to fight yet one more political witch hunt.  America’s founders had the foresight to put in writing the Fifth Modification for [situations] similar to this one.”

Flynn invoked the Fifth Modification all through his interview, which former federal prosecutor Scott Fredricksen mentioned is comprehensible for somebody who decides to invoke it. Witnesses who do this, Fredricksen mentioned, “need to take the Fifth to all questions.”

“They can not simply decide and select, ‘Some questions I will take the Fifth and a few I will reply,'” Fredricksen mentioned. “They need to take throughout the board, a blanket assertion of the Fifth Modification, so there’s nothing that may be learn into whether or not or not there’s precise proof right here.”

A spokesman for the Home choose committee declined to remark.

Flynn was not solely an ally throughout Trump’s last days in workplace however a central participant with entry to Trump and a large community throughout political, authorized, and navy fronts. Flynn participated in a heated Dec. 18, 2020 Oval Workplace assembly the place he and others inspired Trump to take dramatic steps to remain in energy, based on a number of Trump advisers who attended the assembly or have been briefed on it. And in an interview with Newsmax after the 2020 election, Flynn mentioned, “Individuals on the market speak about martial legislation prefer it’s one thing that we have by no means completed.” 

Since Trump exited the presidency, Flynn has remained lively, talking to crowded rallies the place he rails in opposition to what he calls the “deep state” and advocates for a “nice awakening” in a “non secular battle” over the way forward for the nation. He has additionally shared the stage with Trump’s son, Eric Trump, amongst different Trump allies.

Flynn’s deposition came about with the retired lieutenant normal and David Warrington, his lawyer on the time, showing nearly earlier than the Home choose committee. Some video clips of that deposition have been featured within the public committee hearings held earlier this 12 months. However the content material in these clips was restricted in scope, displaying transient exchanges between Flynn and Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and Trump critic who’s vice chair of the committee.

The audio recordsdata obtained by CBS Information present different exchanges, incessantly with Dan George, the committee’s senior investigative counsel, asking Flynn questions. 

GEORGE: Basic Flynn, did you ever encourage anybody to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with a purpose to disrupt the joint session of Congress?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

From the start of the deposition, George pushed Flynn to element any engagement he might have had with officers inside the federal government who may have used their positions to assist him together with his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.   

GEORGE: Between November third, 2020 and January twentieth, 2021, did you will have any conversations with any officers on the Division of Protection relating to election fraud or different irregularities within the 2020 election?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

Moments later, George requested Flynn about contacts with intelligence officers.

GEORGE: Between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021, did you will have any conversations with any present or former officers on the Workplace of the Director of Nationwide Intelligence relating to election fraud or different irregularities within the 2020 presidential elections?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

One component clearly of curiosity to the committee is Flynn’s personal attraction to Ezra Cohen, who was serving on the Protection Division as performing below secretary for intelligence, through the last months of the Trump presidency and forward of the Capitol assault. Cohen had beforehand managed the intelligence division for the Nationwide Safety Council within the Trump White Home, first serving with Flynn after which with Nationwide Safety Adviser and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

In his 2021 e-book “Betrayal,” ABC Information’ Jonathan Karl first reported that Flynn reached out to Cohen after the 2020 election. In keeping with the e-book, Flynn privately inspired Cohen to hitch him and participate in an “epic showdown over the election outcomes” and Flynn informed Cohen that federal orders wanted to be “signed, that ballots have to be seized, and that extraordinary measures wanted to be taken to cease Democrats from stealing the election.”

Flynn has indirectly addressed the alleged exchanges with Cohen however acknowledged on social media, in response to different questions on his feedback and remarks, that he was not in search of a coup within the U.S.

Flynn has indirectly addressed the alleged exchanges with Cohen.

In the course of the deposition, Flynn was requested a number of instances about whether or not he pressured Cohen.

GEORGE: In your telephone name with Mr. Cohen. Did you inform him that he wanted to return to the USA from his journey overseas as a result of, quote, one thing’s about to occur, unquote?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

GEORGE: What was about to occur if you mentioned one thing is about to occur to Mr. Cohen?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

Flynn was then requested if he referred to as Cohen again at one other level in December 2020.

GEORGE: And through the second telephone name with Mr. Cohen, did you inform him that, quote, We have to have the navy take over the election and redo the election, unquote? Or one thing like that?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

GEORGE: Did you say something to the impact of getting the navy concerned within the 2020 presidential election?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

In keeping with Karl’s e-book, Flynn turned enraged with Cohen when Cohen refused to associate with Flynn’s suggestion and referred to as Cohen a “quitter” for saying the election was over. 

An individual near Cohen informed CBS Information that Flynn referred to as Cohen twice and that Cohen informed Flynn he wanted to maneuver on. The particular person added that Cohen, alarmed by his dialog with Flynn, reported the decision to the performing protection secretary. Cohen later spoke with the Home choose committee on the committee’s request, based on two folks acquainted with the committee who weren’t licensed to talk publicly. 

Past these reported situations of Flynn participating a sitting intelligence official, the Home investigator probed whether or not Flynn used different channels to work his contacts.

In keeping with the audio recordsdata obtained by CBS Information, the committee investigator requested Flynn through the deposition about an proof exhibit which appears to point out a doable e mail Flynn despatched to a former prime Trump administration intelligence official, Richard Grenell, within the weeks after the 2020 presidential election.

GEORGE: Pull up exhibit quantity 11, please. Basic Flynn, are you able to see what I am displaying there as exhibit quantity 11?

FLYNN: I can see, yeah, the underside, I assume the underside half.

GEORGE: Sure, we’re targeted on the underside, which is an e-mail dated Friday, December 11, 2020, at 3:56 p.m.

FLYNN: I can see the e-mail.

GEORGE: Okay. And in that e mail, it says, ‘Ric, per our name. This must be stored in very tight channels. I would like to find out if this letter is genuine. Whether it is, now we have larger issues than even I can think about. Thanks, Mike.’ With the signature [box], Michael Flynn, Lieutenant Basic USA, retired.’ Basic Flynn, are you the one that despatched that e mail dated November 11, 2020 at 3:50, excuse me, at December 11, 2020 at 3:56 p.m., as proven there in exhibit quantity 11?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

CBS Information reached out to Grenell, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany and former performing Director of Nationwide Intelligence, to debate the committee’s probing of the e-mail. He issued a press release criticizing CBS Information protection, stating, partly, “You and CBS Information have misplaced all credibility on what the reality is.”

Later within the Flynn deposition, the Jan. 6 committee investigator states that the committee is aware of that Flynn contacted Anthony Tata, a retired brigadier normal whose tv commentary was popular with Trump, in December 2020. Within the days after the election, Trump put in Tata within the Pentagon because the “senior official performing the duties of the undersecretary of Protection for coverage,” as described by CNBC. 

GEORGE: We perceive that round December 2020, you contacted Mr. Anthony Tata from the Division of Protection relating to the 2020 election. Is that true?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

In a press release to CBS Information, Tata mentioned, partly, “In December 2020, I by no means spoke with Mike Flynn about something. I had no foreknowledge of what transpired on the [Capitol] on January 6, 2021, and utterly denounce what occurred.”

Flynn’s ties to right-wing teams have been additionally below scrutiny all through the deposition, notably his hyperlinks to the first Modification Praetorian, which The New York Occasions has described as a “right-wing paramilitary group that was concerned in a much less publicly seen but nonetheless expansive effort to maintain” Trump within the White Home, and whose members typically use the shorthand “1AP.” That group’s chief has claimed that he offered Flynn with safety in December 2020.

In the course of the deposition, Flynn declined to debate 1AP and associated right-wing teams, once more invoking his proper in opposition to self-incrimination as outlined within the Fifth Modification. 

GEORGE: Did you ever focus on with any members of 1AP expectations or plans for January 6, 2021?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

The committee went on to ask questions on Flynn’s relationships with attorneys Lin Wooden and Sidney Powell, two Trump allies who labored on authorized challenges to the 2020 election and made unfounded claims about voting machines. Wooden informed CNBC final 12 months that he hosted Flynn at his South Carolina property and mentioned, “Flynn was right here on Thanksgiving as a result of he carved the turkey.”

George pushed Flynn through the deposition in March to share extra about these November 2020 conferences and in regards to the chance that the behind-the-scenes deliberations amongst Flynn, Wooden, and Powell and their allies, simply days after the election, fueled a broader and coordinated try and overturn the consequence.

GEORGE: And who else was at Mr. Wooden’s property if you have been there round Thanksgiving?

FLYNN:  The Fifth.

GEORGE: Mr. Wooden has mentioned that Ms. Powell and others arrange in his front room in certainly one of his sunrooms and had computer systems and whiteboards. He described it as an election central. Does that sound like an correct characterization of what you noticed if you have been there?

FLYNN: The Fifth.

Flynn, who earlier this month appeared earlier than a Georgia grand jury investigating whether or not Trump and his allies labored to overturn that state’s election consequence, was requested through the March 2022 Jan. 6 committee deposition about whether or not he, Powell, and Wooden and others engaged with state leaders and in the event that they pressured them to certify Trump because the winner. 

Flynn’s response: “The Fifth.”

CBS Information was unable to succeed in Wooden or Powell for remark. 

However it wasn’t simply Lin Wooden’s property that drew the committee’s curiosity as a setting the place Flynn might need been lively. He was additionally requested about whether or not he appeared at The Trump Worldwide Resort in Washington, D.C., and the close by Willard Intercontinental Resort on Jan. 5, 2021. 

On the eve of the rebel, a whole bunch of right-wing teams congregated outdoors the Willard, which is blocks away from the White Home, all as Trump allies, similar to Stephen Ok. Bannon, labored in “battle rooms” contained in the resort took steps to stress congressional Republicans and Vice President Mike Pence to dam the congressional certification of Biden’s election. 

Flynn’s response to questions in regards to the evening of Jan. 5, 2021 was, as soon as once more, “The Fifth.”

Grace Kazarian contributed to this report.

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