WASHINGTON ― The House intelligence committee is preparing to issue subpoenas against Michael Flynn after the former national security adviser denied a request to voluntarily turn over documents related to the committee’s Russia probe.
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, said on Wednesday that the committee is prepared to use “whatever compulsory process we need” to obtain information from Flynn if he does not cooperate with the subpoenas. He added that the committee could issue additional subpoenas if other witnesses fail to cooperate, but did not name additional individuals.
Citing the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Flynn’s lawyer said on Monday that Flynn would not comply with subpoenas from the Senate intelligence committee, which is conducting its own parallel investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and whether it colluded with President Donald Trump’s associates. The Senate committee responded with two additional subpoenas on Tuesday targeting Flynn’s businesses.
The House committee’s subpoenas “will be designed to maximize our chance of getting the information that we need,” Schiff told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “We need to use whatever compulsory mechanism necessary to get the information he possesses … the Fifth Amendment right not to provide materials or documents is limited,” he added.
Schiff said he is “skeptical” that the committee would agree to grant Flynn immunity in the future in exchange for information.
The committee is also looking for ways to obtain documentation of Trump’s conversations with top intelligence and law enforcement officials involved in a separate federal Russia probe.
Trump implied earlier this month that he had “tapes” of discussions with recently fired FBI Director James Comey that would be damaging to Comey. And the Washington Post reported earlier this week that Trump asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers to push back on the FBI’s Russia investigation.
“That could be further evidence of an attempt to interfere with the investigation,” Schiff said of Trump’s reported request to Coats and Rogers. He also referred to past reports that the White House asked allies on Capitol Hill to refute negative press stories about Trump associates’ ties to Russia. “If all of this is part of a pattern by the White House of interference or worse, that’s something that we have to find out about and it’s something we have to stop,” he said.
Despite concerns about Trump interfering with ongoing investigations into his campaign, Schiff warned that it is premature for Democrats on Capitol Hill to push for impeachment.
“There’s a legal standard that needs to be met for impeachment and then there’s a very practical standard that has to be met,” Schiff said. Practically speaking, he continued, impeachment is only possible if Republican lawmakers and the general public believe Trump is unfit for office.
“If the Republicans in Congress or people at large in the country feel this is simply a way to nullify an election that others didn’t agree with, then you’re not going to meet the practical standards necessary,” Schiff said.