WASHINGTON: Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn texted a businessman during President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech that a Middle East nuclear power plant scheme with Russian partners was “good to go,” a Democratic lawmaker alleged Wednesday.
According to a whistleblower who contacted the lawmaker, the businessman said Flynn had told him that sanctions on Russia would be “ripped up” as a priority in the new Trump government to help the nuclear scheme go ahead.
“Mike has been putting everything in place for us,” the businessman, Alex Copson, managing director of nuclear power promoter ACU Strategic Partners, allegedly told the whistleblower.
“This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people.”
The allegations posed new troubles for Flynn, who left the White House last February after barely three weeks and pleaded guilty last week to lying to FBI investigators in the Russia election meddling probe.
It also raised fresh questions on what Trump knew about Flynn’s business plans when he appointed the retired three-star general to serve as his national security adviser.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, recounted the whistleblower’s allegations as part of a push to have Flynn and others testify to his committee.
According to Cummings, on January 20, 2017, the whistleblower had a conversation with Copson as they attended Trump’s inauguration.
Six months earlier, Copson had paid Flynn $25,000 (Dh91,812) to travel to the Middle East to help promote his scheme, and was excited about the possibility that it would move ahead.
The ACU plan involved some two dozen nuclear power plants around the Middle East, to be developed jointly by the United States and Russia.
The key to the plan’s success was ending economic sanctions on Russia, which would supply the reactors.
Three weeks before the inauguration, the outgoing Obama administration had expanded sanctions on Russia to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 presidential election that sent Trump to the White House.
Flynn though told Copson that sanctions would be dropped, and he reportedly began circulating the plan to top White House officials within days of the inauguration.
According to The Wall Street Journal, he also discussed the nuclear plan with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and a close friend of the president, Thomas Barrack.
Cummings detailed the whistleblower’s allegations in a letter to Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the oversight committee, and called on the panel to subpoena Flynn to testify.
“Our committee has credible allegations that President Trump’s national security adviser sought to manipulate the course of international nuclear policy for the financial gain of his former business partners,” said Cummings.
He also requested subpoenas for Copson, Barrack and other officials linked to the nuclear scheme.
Cummings said he was first contacted by the whistleblower last June, but suggested that his account had remained under wraps while Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling, was investigating Flynn.