House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff speaks to reporters about the appointment of a Special Counsel in the Russia investigations on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson(reuters_tickers)
By Warren Strobel
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee will subpoena former national security adviser Michael Flynn in its probe into alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election after he declined to appear before the panel, its top Democrat said on Wednesday.
"We will be following up with subpoenas, and those subpoenas will be designed to maximize our chance of getting the information that we need," Representative Adam Schiff told journalists at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
The leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on Tuesday they would subpoena two of Flynn's businesses after he declined to hand over documents in its separate Russia probe.
The intelligence panels want Flynn to provide information on whether there was Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and whether there was collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and Trump denies any collusion.
Trump's young administration has been dogged by concerns about its ties to Russia and questions over whether Trump associates may have cooperated with Russians as they sought to meddle in last year's election on Trump's behalf.
Flynn, a retired general, is a key witness in the Russia investigations because of his ties to Moscow.
He was fired from his position at the White House in February, after less than a month on the job, for failing to disclose the content of talks with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.
On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan testified to the House intelligence panel that he had noticed enough contact between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 campaign to justify an investigation by the FBI.
Brennan’s confirmation of contacts between Russian officials and members of Trump's team, increased the pressure on investigators to determine whether the Trump camp colluded with the Russians.
Schiff said the House panel had invited its first group of witnesses to testify, it is obtaining documents, and assessing who will cooperate voluntarily, and who will have to be subpoenaed.
Separately, ABC News reported that Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign, would testify on June 6 before the House committee. ABC News said Page himself told it about the scheduled testimony.
Schiff also told reporters the committee was trying to obtain an audio recording of any conversation between Trump and former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired this month, or Comey's notes on his meeting with the Republican president.
He declined to comment specifically on what financial information the committee was obtaining, but speaking in general terms, he noted that one tactic Russians use to influence foreign nationals is financial entanglement.
"So we need to take a look at some of the financial issues to try to determine whether the Russians used money to try to entangle U.S. persons, as a way of influencing their conduct,” Schiff said.
The intelligence panels are among several congressional committees looking into the allegations involving links between Russia and Trump's Nov. 8 victory. The U.S. Justice Department announced last week that former FBI Director Robert Mueller had been appointed special counsel to lead an independent probe of the matter.
A group of Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, said on Wednesday it had asked Deutsche Bank to provide information on whether any accounts connected to Trump had ties to Russia.
(Reporting by Warren Strobel, Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann in Washington and Karen Freifeld in New York; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)