U.S. President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has agreed to hand over documents to the Senate intelligence committee in connection with its investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence last year’s U.S. presidential election.
Flynn had previously refused a subpoena from the committee, with his lawyers asserting the request was too broad in what it was seeking.
The committee filed a more narrow subpoena, and Flynn is now expected to provide some personal documents and those related to two businesses by next week.
The House intelligence committee is conducting its own investigation, and on Tuesday Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, turned down a request to provide information, calling it “poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered.”
The U.S. Justice Department has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel in another investigation that also includes whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia.
Trump has rejected those allegations and dismissed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign aimed at the November election with a desire to help Trump’s chances of beating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News,” Trump wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
Later, at a White House briefing for reporters, spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump “is frustrated … to see stories come out that are patently false, to see narratives that are wrong, to see, quote, unquote, fake news, when you see stories get perpetrated that are absolutely false, that are not based in fact.”
Trump’s Russia comment came as news reports continued to focus on Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser, and his reported attempt to establish a back-channel communications link to Russian officials in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration in January.
Some foreign affairs experts said the move, while former President Barack Obama had weeks left in his term, worried them that it could undermine U.S. security, and some opposition Democrats have suggested Kushner’s security clearance should be revoked. Other experts say exploring the creation of “backchannels” is commonplace, even during presidential transitions.
Spicer deflected several questions about Kushner’s actions, telling one reporter his inquiry “presupposes facts that have not been confirmed.”
The White House also is bracing for the upcoming congressional testimony of former FBI chief James Comey. Trump fired Comey after allegedly asking him to drop the probe into Flynn and his close ties to the Kremlin.