- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democrats are pressing the businessman President Donald Trump nominated to be ambassador to Japan for answers about the vetting of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to congressional aides.

William F. Hagerty served as director of presidential appointments for Trump’s transition team. One aide said Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee want to know “who knew what and when” about Flynn’s background. The aides were not authorized to speak publicly about the requests to the Tennessee businessman and requested anonymity.

Speaking to reporters Monday, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said “questions for the record” were sent to Hagerty before Congress left for a weeklong Memorial Day break. Coons said he thought Hagerty did well during his confirmation hearing last month. But Coons said he was unaware until recently of Hagerty’s role in the staffing of Trump’s administration.

“I think how his nomination proceeds will in some part depend upon what those answers are,” Coons said.

Flynn is a central figure in the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. The House and Senate Intelligence committees also are examining Russia’s meddling in the election.

Flynn agreed late last month to provide documents to the Senate panel after previously invoking his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination in declining an earlier subpoena.

Flynn was fired by Trump in February, less than a month after Flynn filled the key national security post. The move came because of revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his communications with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Between June 2015 and Jan. 20 of this year, Flynn accepted tens of thousands of dollars from a Russian state-sponsored television network. He later worked as a foreign agent on behalf of a Turkish businessman, while also serving as a top Trump campaign adviser.

Hagerty is a founder and the managing director of Hagerty Peterson & Company, a private equity investment firm in Nashville, Tennessee, according to a brief biography on the company’s web site.

He took a leave of absence last year to serve as director of presidential appointments for the Trump transition team. As director, Hagerty was “responsible for the planning and execution of the process to effect the largest leadership transition in the world - one that ultimately encompasses over 4,000 presidential appointments,” the bio reads.

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Reach Richard Lardner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rplardner

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