WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday supported the decision of his former national security adviser to seek immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony in congressional probes of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Retired General Michael Flynn wants protection against “unfair prosecution” if he testifies before the intelligence committees of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, his lawyer, Robert Kelner, said on Thursday.
“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 wrote in a tweet.
Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was too soon to discuss immunity for Flynn.
A government official with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters that lawyers for Flynn raised the immunity request roughly 10 days ago with representatives of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Officials told them the committee was not interested in any immunity discussions at that time.
Testimony from Flynn could help shed light on the conversations he had last year with Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the United States, while national security adviser for Trump’s presidential campaign.
Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser in February for failing to disclose talks with Kislyak about U.S. sanctions on Moscow and misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations, which occurred before Trump took office.
Congressional committees and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are also looking into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election campaign.
Russia has denied allegations that it hacked emails of Democratic groups and released information to tip the presidential election toward Trump.
Trump, a Republican, has dismissed suggestions of links with Moscow as Democratic sour grapes for losing the election.
King criticized Trump’s remarks.
“This is not a witch hunt,” King, an independent, told CNN. “This is an effort to get to the truth of some very important questions.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that the Russians were behind an effort to interfere in our elections,” he said. “To continue to deny that – it just flies in the face of all of the reality.”
(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Lisa Von Ahn)