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Trump calls congressional inquiry a 'witch hunt'

Trump calls congressional inquiry a 'witch hunt'

President appeared to support Michael Flynn’s request for immunity in connection with investigations into Russian ties
Trump calls congressional inquiry a 'witch hunt'
Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, at a pre-inauguration event in Washington, Jan. 19, 2017.
Photographer: Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday said Michael Flynn, the national security adviser who resigned last month over his contacts with Russian officials, should ask for immunity from prosecution in the congressional investigation into his campaign’s ties to Moscow. Trump called the probe a “witch hunt” by the media and Democrats.

The president made the remark in a Twitter posting the morning after it was revealed that Flynn was seeking an immunity deal as part of an offer to testify in the investigations by the House and Senate intelligence committees into Russian meddling. Those inquiries are looking into the presidential election and potential collusion between Trump’s campaign staff members and the Russians.

“Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!” Trump said in the message.

It was not clear from Trump’s posting whether he fully appreciated the potential impact on his administration if Flynn received immunity to participate fully in the probe. But he has said previously that seeking protection from prosecution is a telltale sign of wrongdoing.

“If you’re not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for, right?” he said at a campaign rally in Orlando, Florida, in September. Trump was referring to Hillary Clinton aides who received immunity during an FBI inquiry into her private email server.

His mention of a witch hunt echoed the language used by Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, in a statement Thursday evening about possible testimony by his client. “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,” Kelner wrote.

“Gen. Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should circumstances permit,” he added.

A congressional official said investigators were unwilling to broker a deal with Flynn — who resigned last month after admitting he misled White House officials about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States — until they are further along in their inquiries and they better understand what information Flynn might offer as part of a deal.

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