When last we heard from Michael Flynn’s lawyer, Mr. Flynn was not only refusing to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee without a guarantee of immunity, but also refusing to admit that emails and documents concerning his Russia connection even existed.
Producing documents that fall within the subpoena’s broad scope would be a testimonial act, insofar as it would confirm or deny the existence of such documents.
In other words, admitting that there were emails talking about communications with Russia would be a pretty good sign that there were … communications with Russia. However, after thinking about it for another week, Michael Flynn has decided to open up his email bin, just a little.
Attorneys for Flynn’s team sent the committee a written response Tuesday indicating that Flynn would begin providing records in response to subpoenas by June 6, the deadline to start turning over such information. Flynn was required to indicate by Tuesday whether he intended to comply with the records request.
Why the change? Because after receiving Flynn’s nyet, the Senate committee turned around and started sending subpoenas to Flynn’s companies. If you’ve ever pondered the reasons to not create an LLC to handle all your money, add “highly vulnerable to subpoenas” to that list.
The subpoenas were issued for two companies Flynn owns, Flynn Intel Group Inc. and Flynn Intel Group LLC. The committee also reissued a third subpoena for personal records, the focus of which was narrowed after Flynn rejected the committee’s initial demand for personal records relating to his contacts with Russian authorities, claiming it was too broad and would jeopardize his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
It’s unlikely the committee is going to be entirely happy with what Flynn produces. Redirecting the requests Flynn’s businesses meant narrowing the request by restricting them to asking about payments Flynn received from the Turkish government and Russian state media. Broader discussion of communications Flynn is known to have held with the Russian ambassador and other officials likely wasn’t involved with his consulting firms.
There might not be much to learn from the documents provided by Flynn’s companies other than to confirm the dates and amounts of payments to Flynn while he was acting as an unregistered foreign agent. There’s an outside chance the documents might provide new leads on Russia connections, but it’s not probable.
However, the documents may firm up the committee’s standing with Flynn, providing either a better sense of why Flynn should not be given any form of immunity, or opening up the possibility that Flynn might be offered protection on some charges in order to obtain his testimony on the broader question of connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Though with Robert Mueller already involved in an independent investigation, and the specter of how Iran Contra hearings wrecked the possibility of ever punishing those involved, it’s unlikely that Flynn will be given anything at hearings beyond a glass of water.