Trump defends Flynn immunity request amid Russia probe

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Donald Trump and Michael Flynn speak at a rally in Colorado in October. (Photo: AFP)
Donald Trump and Michael Flynn speak at a rally in Colorado in October. (Photo: AFP)

President Trump weighed in on retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s offer to testify before Congress in exchange for legal immunity, declaring that it’s a reasonable request given the current political climate.

On Friday morning, Trump accused the Democrats and mainstream media of being out for blood after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election. He further claimed that Flynn — and presumably others in Trump’s circle — has been subjected to a “witch hunt.”

This is a far cry from Trump’s previous suggestion that the only reason people would bother requesting immunity is they were guilty. Both Trump and Flynn railed against Clinton when her aides requested immunity amid a probe into her private email server.

Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, made similar comments while discussing the Clinton email probe on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in September.

“Five people around her have been given immunity,” Flynn said. “When you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime.”

Flynn, a 33-year Army veteran, resigned from Trump’s Cabinet in February following reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his communications with Moscow during the transition. He failed to disclose that he may have discussed sanctions during phone calls with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The Trump team’s story about Flynn’s contacts with Russia changed multiple times in the weeks leading to his resignation. The content of their discussions, the dates and the number of their conversations all fluctuated.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said later on Friday that it’s too early to even consider granting Flynn immunity because of the power of his former position. He added that the committee is interested in hearing what Flynn has to say.

A U.S. official told the Associated Press that Flynn was in regular contact with Russian envoy Sergey Kislyak when then-President Barack Obama placed sanctions against the country for its interference with the U.S. election.

Attorney Robert Kelner, the legal counsel to Flynn, said in a statement that his client “certainly has a story to tell” to the Senate and House intelligence committees, and that he wants to tell it “should the circumstances permit.” The committees and the FBI are investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election and whether Trump associates were involved.

“Notwithstanding his life of national service, the media are awash with unfounded allegations, outrageous claims of treason, and vicious innuendo directed against him,” Kelner said.

“He is now the target of unsubstantiated public demands by members of Congress and other political critics that he be criminally investigated. No reasonable person, who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch-hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.”

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