Flynn texted partners about nuclear plan during inauguration, whistleblower says
Congressional Democrats said Wednesday they have evidence from a confidential whistleblower that within minutes of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, then-national security adviser Michael Flynn sent assurances to former business partners that a plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East was “good to go.”
Democrats on the House oversight committee said in a letter dated Wednesday that the whistleblower reported attending an inauguration day event with Flynn’s former business associate Alex Copson, the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners.
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The whistleblower said Copson gushed that Trump’s inauguration was “the best day of my life” because it meant his company’s effort to create a U.S.-Russia energy partnership in the Middle East, which reportedly would have included more than two dozen nuclear plants in the region, was moving forward. Copson said Flynn was making sure Obama-era sanctions, which he claimed threatened the nuclear project, would be “ripped up,” according to the whistleblower.
And the whistleblower said Copson flipped his phone around to reveal a text message he said came from Flynn describing the nuclear reactor project as “good to go.” According to the account, the whistleblower didn’t see the substance of the text but recalled seeing a 12:11 p.m. timestamp. At that time, Flynn was on the dais during Trump’s inaugural address.
“Our committee has credible allegations that President Trump’s National Security Advisor sought to manipulate the course of international nuclear policy for the financial gain of his former business partners,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, said in the letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.). “These grave allegations compel a full, credible, and bipartisan congressional investigation.”
Neither Flynn’s attorney nor Copson immediately responded to requests for comment on Wednesday. Scrutiny of the nuclear plan has risen after congressional Democrats said Flynn did not disclose related trips to the Middle East when he filed his security clearance renewal application in 2016.
Flynn pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI about his pre-inauguration contacts with senior Russian officials, and he said he was cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump associates colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election. Flynn could also be a crucial witness in an investigation into whether Trump intended to obstruct the Russia investigation by firing former FBI Director James Comey.
Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, said the whistleblower approached the committee in June, but Mueller’s investigators asked him to “hold on the public release of this information until they completed certain investigative steps.”
“They have now informed us that they have done so,” Cummings told Gowdy, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House also did not respond.
Multiple news reports described emails and accounts revealing boastfulness by Flynn’s former partners about their nuclear plan, as well as Flynn’s efforts inside the White House to promote the deal.
This is the start of something I have been working on for years,” the whistleblower recalled Copson saying at the inauguration day event, according to the Democrats’ letter. “Mike has been putting everything in place for us.”
Cummings described the whistleblower as “authentic, credible, and reliable.” He also said the whistleblower “still fears retaliation” but felt “duty bound as a citizen to make this disclosure.” The whistleblower, Cummings added, has expressed willingness to meet with Gowdy if he agrees to keep the individual’s identity secret.
Gowdy responded sharply in a letter to Cummings, refusing the offer and referring it instead to the House intelligence committee, which is leading an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.