Trump urges former adviser Flynn to cut immunity deal

Congress generally is skeptical toward granting immunity to committee witnesses and often defers to the Justice Department if there is a potential for criminal prosecution.

Q: If a witness seeks immunity, doesn't that mean he or she is probably guilty of a crime?

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, has been criticized by his colleagues on the panel for his handling of the investigation of possible Russian connections, including going to the White House complex independently to review documents on the purported surveillance.

President Donald Trump tweeted early Friday that Flynn was right to ask for immunity.

Trump's attorney, Robert Kelner, said Thursday night that "no reasonable person" would agree to be questioned "in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution".

The Russian government has denied the allegations and denied that it hacked emails of Democratic groups and released information to tip the election toward Trump, who has called for better US relations with Moscow. Committees can grant an immunity order, which normally requires a two-thirds vote after prior approval from the Justice Department.

Flynn was sacked from his job as Trump's first national security adviser after it was disclosed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the USA during the transition.

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White House spokesman Sean Spicer was asked at a news briefing if he was concerned that Flynn could provide information that could be harmful to the administration and replied, "Nope".

The Associated Press said a congressional aide confirmed that preliminary discussions with the Senate intelligence committee involved immunity but that it was too early in the investigation to set terms.

The House and Senate intelligence committees and the FBI are investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

"General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit", Mr Kelner said on Thursday.

Since July, the FBI has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Russia's interference in the election and possible coordination with Trump associates.

Prior to Trump's inauguration, on the day that President Obama announced sanctions against Russia as punishment for interfering in the US election, Flynn spoke on the phone with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

Kelner released a statement after The Wall Street Journal first reported that Flynn's negotiations with the committee included discussions of immunity. The Turkish businessman who hired Flynn, Ekim Alptekin, has told the AP that Flynn's firm registered under pressure from the Justice Department.

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Congress has the authority to grant someone immunity, but doing so could jeopardize federal prosecutors' ability to use that person's testimony as the basis for any criminal case.

A USA intelligence official told NBC News that Flynn had discussed the hacking-related sanctions with Kislyak prior to Trump's inauguration.

Four other Trump associates have come forward in recent weeks, saying they would talk to the committees.

Former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017.

"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". Earlier this month, Flynn registered retroactively as a foreign agent, disclosing that his former consulting firm earned $530,000 previous year from a Dutch entity with ties to Turkey's government.

Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency before being pushed out by the Obama administration, advised the Trump campaign beginning in 2015.

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