Flynn immunity offer hangs over Russia investigators

Four Democratic senators have charged in a series of letters that the appointment of Michael Flynn as Donald Trump's national security adviser "might have jeopardised national security" and demanded information on why seemingly obvious red flags were overlooked in his vetting for the position.

A lawyer for former national security adviser Michael Flynn says he's in talks with congressional committees to testify before them in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Mr Flynn, who was a member of the Trump campaign and transition, was sacked as national security adviser after it was publicly disclosed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the US.

Testimony from Flynn could help shed light on the conversations he had with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kisylak past year when he was the national security adviser for Trump's presidential campaign.

"When the time comes to consider requests for immunity from any witness, we will of course require a detailed proffer of any intended testimony", Schiff said.

Schiff said committee leaders would be discussing the issue with their Senate counterparts and the Justice Department.

Schiff had on Friday was allowed to see documents at the White House that previously had been seen only by the Republican chairman of the intelligence committee.

Flynn himself allowed as much a year ago about the immunity deals in the Clinton email investigation, saying in a television interview, "When you are given immunity, that means that you have probably committed a crime".

Schiff also answered Trump's Twitter post with his own messages, saying that his committee would soon uncover the reasons Flynn wanted immunity.

"I think he believes that Mike Flynn should go testify", White House press secretary Sean Spicer told media persons.

"The president is very clear that he wants Mike Flynn to go and be completely open and transparent with the committee and whatever it takes to do that he is supportive of", Spicer replied.

Spicer disputed the notion that Trump's advice to Flynn means he believes the retired Army lieutenant general committed a crime in his dealings with Russian Federation.

"While I can not discuss the content of the documents", Schiff said, "if the White House had any concern over these materials, they should have been shared with the full (House and Senate intelligence) committees in the first place as a part of our ordinary oversight responsibilities".

Though still in the process of deliberation, the House Intelligence Committee acknowledged the request of Flynn's attorney.

"The easiest way to not incriminate yourself is to keep your mouth shut", said Washington lawyer Stephen Ryan, a congressional investigations expert.

But the Senate Intelligence Committee, beginning its hearings on Thursday, heard claims the Kremlin had tried to sway the vote through "propaganda on steroids".

But the president's top spokesman didn't give a direct answer when asked whether Congress and the Federal Bureau of Investigation should grant Flynn immunity.

Officials said the idea of immunity for Flynn - who is considered a central figure in the probes because of his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States - was a "non-starter, " particularly at such an early stage of the investigations. And he has some explaining to do about his possible links to the Turkish government, even as he was serving as an adviser to the Trump campaign.

  • Salvatore Jensen