WASHINGTON, U.S. - In a shocking development, Democratic lawmakers have revealed that they are probing whether retired U.S. General Michael Flynn secretly promoted a U.S.-Russian project to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East after becoming the first national security adviser under Donald Trump.
The disclosure was made in a letter sent on Tuesday by representatives Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Eliot Engel, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, to Flynn’s lawyer and executives of firms that developed the reactor scheme.
All the private companies - Kelner, Alex G. Copson of X-Co Dynamics/ACU Strategic Partners, and retired Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt of X-Co Dynamics/Ironbridge Group/IP3 were the same firms for which Flynn’s now-defunct consulting company worked.
In the letter that was made public on Wednesday, the representatives reportedly said, “The American people deserve to know whether General Flynn was secretly promoting the private interests of these businesses while he was a (Trump) campaign adviser, transition official, or President Trump’s national security adviser.”
The representatives asked Flynn’s lawyer and executives of the companies involved in the project to provide “all communications” they had with Flynn or other administration officials during the 2016 campaign, the post-election transition or Flynn’s tenure as national security adviser.
So far, Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner has not made any official comments.
According to reports, the project proposes to construct 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East that would feed a regional electric grid.
Further, the reactors were planned to be “proliferation proof,” which means that they could not be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.
The proposed project would be funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.
It would be built and run by a consortium of U.S., Russian, French, Dutch, Arab, British, Ukrainian and Israeli firms.
Reports revealed a promotional slide promoting the project which said security would be provided by Rosoboron, a Russian state-owned arms exporter that is under U.S. sanctions.
The representatives are asked that the documents be provided by October 4.
Cummings and Engel have sent their letter as part of an inquiry into the renewal of Flynn’s 2016 Top Secret security clearance.
The representatives have revealed that Flynn failed to disclose a June 2015 trip that he made to Egypt and Israel to promote the reactor project to investigators reviewing his renewal application.
They have also alleged that he did not list the foreigners with whom he met.
The lawmakers wrote that replies from the executives and Kelner to a June letter confirmed that Flynn made the trip.
They wrote in the letter, “Based on your responses, it appears that General Flynn violated federal law. Since these violations carry criminal penalties of up to five years in prison, we are providing your responses to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.”
The lawmakers added, “Second, your responses raise significant questions about whether General Flynn continued to communicate with you and others about this project after the presidential election, after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, and after General Flynn assumed the post of national security adviser - without disclosing his foreign travel or contacts.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Donald Gross, counsel for ACU Strategic Partners, said the company has cooperated with the oversight committee in providing information about the project being developed along with Hewitt’s IP3, and “General Flynn’s limited involvement in June 2015.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s controversial former National Security Adviser, Flynn is also a central figure in a federal probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump aides colluded in an alleged Russian effort to swing the presidential election in Trump’s favour.
Both Russia and Trump have denied any collusion and Trump has called it a witch hunt - but evidence has kept on emerging over the last few months.
Trump, who took office on January 20, fired Flynn on February 13 - merely 18 days after a top Justice Department official warned that the former Defense Intelligence Agency director could be blackmailed because Moscow knew he made misleading statements about his contacts with Russian officials.