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House Dems: Michael Flynn May Have Lobbied For Nuclear Deal Inside White House

The lawmakers suggest that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn might have advocated for the nuclear deal while serving as national security adviser.
Carolyn Kaster
The lawmakers suggest that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn might have advocated for the nuclear deal while serving as national security adviser.

Story updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

Retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn may have lobbied on behalf of a vast foreign deal to build a fleet of nuclear reactors across the Middle East as he was serving as national security adviser, according to new documents out Wednesday.

Two top House Democrats questioned Flynn's use of his office in a letter they sent to business leaders with whom Flynn worked on the project.

"Your responses raise significant questions about whether General Flynn continued to communicate with you and others about this project after the presidential election ... and after General Flynn assumed the post of national security adviser — without disclosing his foreign travel or contacts," they wrote.

The letter is signed by the ranking members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Elijah Cummings, D-Md. The two Democrats wrote that they are sharing their findings with Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller and the Republican chairmen of their committees.

Cummings and Engel have been corresponding with officials whose companies are involved in the nuclear project and who worked with Flynn on behalf of the deal starting in 2015. Alex Copson and retired Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt run businesses that hoped to broker a deal to build a new nuclear-powered electricity infrastructure in the Middle East.

Their work involved travel to Egypt and Israel that raises potential problems for Flynn because he did not report his trips or contacts with foreign officials, as required after he retired from the Army.

What is new is Engel and Cummings' suggestion that Flynn might have kept up his work with the would-be deal brokers from within the White House and potentially advocated for them with the State Department, Defense Department or President Trump.

"The American people deserve to know whether General Flynn was secretly promoting the private interests of these businesses while he was a campaign adviser, a transition official or President Trump's national security adviser," the House leaders wrote.

The business partners with whom Flynn worked told the members of Congress that they believe the nuclear power plan remains "an ongoing, viable project" that is "now part of the Trump administration's 'toolkit' for the Middle East."

The hugely ambitious scheme involves a consortium — including the United States, Russia, possibly China and companies from many other countries — building a network of 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East, along with a major new electrical distribution network.

The whole thing would be "fully funded by the Gulf Arab states," according to its backers, and the improvement in stability and security it would yield in the Middle East meant Flynn "firmly believed in the necessity of the project from a U.S. national security perspective," they said.

So Flynn, who started a lobbying and consulting business, the Flynn Intelligence Group, after he was ousted as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, got on board and traveled to the Middle East to promote the nuclear project. He did not disclose he was doing so, as is required by law.

A representative for Flynn's business, based outside Washington, D.C., did not deny that Flynn had traveled to the Middle East as part of the plan or that he had met with foreign contacts and omitted those details from his official reporting. But there was no additional comment in the material released by Engel and Cummings.

Separately, NBC News reported Wednesday that Flynn's son, Michael Flynn Jr., is a subject in the ongoing federal investigation about Russian interference in the 2016 election. The younger Flynn "had a heavy hand" in the daily operations of Flynn's company, the network reported.

Cummings has previously documented payments from Russian entities to Flynn, which he did not report as required, and earlier questions have also been raised about his advocacy for Turkey.

Flynn's attorney has asked members of Congress for a deal in which he would be granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony about the Russia imbroglio — one lawmakers rejected.

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Philip Ewing is an election security editor with NPR's Washington Desk. He helps oversee coverage of election security, voting, disinformation, active measures and other issues. Ewing joined the Washington Desk from his previous role as NPR's national security editor, in which he helped direct coverage of the military, intelligence community, counterterrorism, veterans and more. He came to NPR in 2015 from Politico, where he was a Pentagon correspondent and defense editor. Previously, he served as managing editor of, and before that he covered the U.S. Navy for the Military Times newspapers.