- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Former business associates of Michael Flynn have told lawmakers that he traveled to the Middle East in 2015 as part of a private proposal to build nuclear power plants across the region, a trip that the former Trump administration national security adviser never disclosed during his security clearance process.

Meanwhile, another report on Wednesday revealed that Mr. Flynn secretly promoted the nuclear power plant project while working the White House, despite disclosure forms declaring he’d cut off involvement.

In a letter released Wednesday, two top House Democrats said that companies involved in the proposal provided details of Mr. Flynn’s trip in June 2015 that suggest he also failed to report contacts with Israeli and Egyptian government officials.

The lawmakers — Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York — are now asking the companies and Mr. Flynn to provide the names and nationalities of any officials he met with during the trip abroad.

Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal details how Mr. Flynn kept in touch with former senior U.S. military officers involved in the project and encouraged them to promote it on behalf of U.S. companies.

One Former National Security Council told the Journal that Mr. Flynn’s actions were “highly abnormal” and “not the way things were supposed to go.”

The new charges come amid an investigation into whether Mr. Flynn fully accounted for his foreign contacts and business entanglements even though he was liable for possible federal criminal penalties for lying or omitting such information.

Security clearance questionnaires specifically ask applicants to report any meetings abroad with foreign government officials that occurred in the previous seven years. As a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Mr. Flynn maintained a security clearance. His last renewal was in early 2016.

Considered the Russian election meddling drama’s mystery man — Mr. Flynn — has not been seen publicly in almost eight months amid a swirl of investigations, media reports and speculation about his activities.

After serving as a top security adviser to Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Flynn in February was forced to resign his White House post after it was determined that he had misled top officials including Vice President Pence about the nature of diplomatic conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S..

Since then, the retired general has been dogged by questions about his lack of disclosure of a Turkish lobbying operation and of foreign payments he accepted after leaving the military in 2014.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is scrutinizing his foreign interactions as part of his probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and any possible coordination with Trump associates. Earlier this year, that investigation incorporated an ongoing federal probe into Mr. Flynn’s lobbying for a Turkish businessman during the final months of the Trump presidential campaign.

Mr. Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, declined to comment on the letter. Mr. Flynn’s legal team has previously said that he’d like to cooperate with Congress but only intended to respond to subpoenas that compel him to do so. As members of the minority party, Mr. Cummings, the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Mr. Engel, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, do not have subpoena power.

This spring, Mr. Kelner sought an immunity agreement for his client similar to one Congress granted Reagan administration aide Oliver North 30 years ago when he testified about the Iran-Contra affair. The deal would have allowed Mr. Flynn to tell his story on Capitol Hill, but congressional investigators denied the request.

In May, Mr. Flynn refused to comply with a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify. This week news surfaced that he’d again refused to comply with a request to appear before panel, according to a committee source quoted by CNN.

While Mr. Kelner has also declined to comment on whether Mr. Flynn is cooperating with Mr. Mueller’s investigation the Washington rumor mill has been in overdrive speculating about the outspoken retired general.

On Wednesday, his son, Michael G. Flynn, was cited as a subject of the federal and congressional Russia investigations — partly because of working for his father’s international lobbying firm. In addition, he also served briefly on the Trump transition team before being dismissed after defended his father for tweets related to the “Pizzagate” conspiracy.

NBC News reported that Mr. Mueller’s team is scrutinizing the younger Flynn, according to four current and former government officials, but it was unclear how long the investigation had been underway.

Mideast trips

Regarding the Flynn-2015 Mideast trip, Mr. Cummings and Mr. Engel first raised concerns about it last June after Newsweek reported that he had worked with companies angling to persuade foreign governments and companies to join in a plan to build a cluster of 40 nuclear plants in the Mideast for civilian power needs.

The lawmakers also seized on a comment the retired general made in congressional testimony in the summer of 2015, in which he said that he had just returned from the Middle East.

In their latest letter, Mr. Cummings and Mr. Engel write that “it appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process.”

According to the letter and documents released by Mr. Cummings and Mr. Engel, Mr. Flynn’s Mideast trip was backed by ACU Strategic Partners, a U.S. firm that sent him to persuade officials to support a plan involving companies from the U.S., Russia, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Ukraine, Israel and several Persian Gulf nations.

Dr. Thomas Cochran, an adviser to ACU Strategic Partners, told the lawmakers that Flynn was expected to press Egyptian and other officials to hold off on accepting a rival offer from Russia. Mr. Flynn also traveled to Israel where, Mr. Cochran said, he sought to assure Israel that the project would be in its interest.

The proposal has never gotten beyond the planning stage.

Thomas Egan, an attorney for ACU, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he had received the lawmakers’ letter, but the company had not yet decided whether it would respond.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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