Donald Trump was just 11 minutes into his presidency when his choice for national security adviser, Michael Flynn, texted a former business partner to say an ambitious US collaboration with Russian Federation to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East was "good to go", according to a new whistleblower account.
The witness provided the account to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who detailed the allegations in a letter Wednesday to the panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
Minutes into Trump's inauguration speech, Flynn also texted the ex-partner, who wanted to work with Russian Federation to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East, that the plan, threatened by Obama's sanctions, was "good to go".
"I do not bring this whistleblower to your attention lightly", Cummings, the Baltimore lawmaker and top Democrat on the committee wrote in the letter.
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Attorneys for Flynn and Copson did not immediately return email and phone requests for comment.
According to the whistleblower, Copson said, "Mike has been putting everything in place for us". Cummings and committee Democrats have complained that Gowdy has stiff-armed the Flynn investigation since he took over the committee in June by consistently refusing to issue subpoenas to the White House and various administration officials, Flynn's consulting firm and his business colleagues related to the matter.
Cummings said that he practiced law for a long time and has interviewed hundreds of witnesses, and he does believe the whistleblower is "very credible".
Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his discussions with the Russian ambassador about sanctions during the transition. Mr. Copson told the whistle-blower that Mr. Flynn had sent him a text message during Mr. Trump's inaugural address, directing him to tell others involved in the nuclear project to continue developing their plans. "I am going to celebrate today".
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The whistleblower said that Copson quickly displayed what he claimed to be a text message from Flynn that appeared to have been sent during Trump's inauguration speech. The witness could not read the text, but he saw that the time stamp was 12:11 p.m., according Cummings's letter.
ACU Strategic Partners issued a statement on Wednesday saying, "No member of ACU received any communication in any form from General Flynn during the presidential campaign, the presidential transition, the inauguration, the period following the inauguration when General Flynn served as national security adviser or subsequent to General Flynn's resignation". Given the seriousness of the charge and the person making it, if the committee isn't going to issue a subpoena, Robert Mueller nearly certainly will.
The episode indicates that Trump officials had planned to jettison sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Russian Federation.
Mr Copson explained that Flynn was making sure that sanctions were going to be "ripped up" as one of the first orders of business and this would allow money to start flowing to the project.
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Copson, according to the whistleblower, said Obama's sanctions had "f**ked everything up in my nuclear deal with the sanctions".