By DAVID S. CLOUD
Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON â€” President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, texted a former business associate on Inauguration Day that Obama-era sanctions against Russia would be â€śripped upâ€ť and that a lucrative proposal to build nuclear reactors with Russian partners in the Middle East was â€śgood to go,â€ť a witness has told Congress.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made a letter public Wednesday that described the unidentified person's account.
Cummings said he had spoken to the witness and called the account a â€ścredibleâ€ť allegation that Flynn â€śsought to manipulate the course of international nuclear policy for the financial gain of his former business partners.â€ť
Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his discussions with the Russian ambassador about sanctions during the transition. It's unclear if the new claim puts him in additional legal jeopardy.
The retired three-star Army general is cooperating with prosecutors as part of his plea agreement with Robert S. Mueller III, who is heading the probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the election.
Flynn's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment on the latest claims.
Flynn had worked as a consultant for ACU Strategic Partners, the group pushing the proposed nuclear deal, in 2015 and 2016. He didn't divulge the relationship until the third version of his financial disclosure report, required of White House employees, which he filed in August.
The new details suggest Flynn sought to help the nuclear deal proceed after he joined the White House. He was ousted as national security adviser after only 24 days on the job. The administration has not lifted sanctions on Russia.
Alex Copson, the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners, received texts from Flynn during Trump's inauguration, Jan. 20, saying the deal was â€śgood to go,â€ť according to Cummings.
â€śMr. Copson explained that Gen. Flynn was making sure the sanctions would be ripped up as one of his first orders of business and this would allow money to start flowing into the project,â€ť Cummings said, quoting the witness.
After getting the texts, Copson said â€śMike has been putting everything in place for us,â€ť and â€śThis is going to make a lot of very wealthy people,â€ť Cummings said, quoting the witness.
Cummings said the individual contacted his office and authorized him to make his account, but not his name, public. He said the witness said Copson showed him texts on his phone he said were from Flynn, but the witness didn't read them and later took notes on their conversation.
ACU Strategic Partners paid for Flynn to travel to Israel and Egypt in 2015 to promote the nuclear project, paying him a fee of $25,000, according to a letter Copson sent the committee. He said Flynn did not cash the check, however.
The company did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
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