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Flynn told a business associate Russian sanctions would be 'ripped up'

07 December 2017

As President Trump delivered his inaugural address, national security adviser Michael Flynn texted a former business partner that a private nuclear power project that would require lifting sanctions on Russian Federation was "good to go", a senior House Democrat said in a letter released Wednesday.

The account is from a whistleblower made public for the first time today.

The project in question - promoted by a group of former senior USA military officers, and often described as a "Marshall Plan" of sorts - would involve U.S. companies working with Russian companies to build and operate nuclear plants in the Middle East, and export spent fuel from those plants.

The whistleblower told congressional investigators that Copson boasted that Flynn was "making sure that sanctions would be "ripped up" as one of his first orders of business and that this would allow money to start flowing into the project", an apparent reference to financial sanctions imposed on Russian Federation by the Obama administration, Cummings's letter states. "These grave allegations compel a full, credible, and bipartisan congressional investigation".

But in his interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation last January, 24, according to the Justice Department documents, Flynn lied when he said he did not ask Kislyak "to refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russian Federation".

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"Mr. 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", Cummings said, quoting the witness.

It is alleged that while sitting a few yards away from the podium where President Trump was delivering his inaugural address on 20 January, Mr Flynn sent the texts to Alex Copson, managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners, a U.S. nuclear power consultancy.

Cummings wrote that Mueller's office had asked him to hold back the information until "they completed certain investigative steps" - which apparently have now been concluded.

According to the account, the unnamed whistleblower ran into Copson at a party in Washington, D.C. on inauguration day. Copson was working with Flynn to promote a joint project with Russian Federation to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East.

"This is the best day of my life", Copson told the whistleblower as he described the message from Flynn, Cummings said. The Wall Street Journal reported in September that despite records showing Flynn's work on the project ended in December 2016, Flynn continued promoting the plan to colleagues inside the White House.

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Cummings added: "They have now informed us that they have done so". The investigators are searching for further evidence that Flynn lobbied from his government job as National Security Advisor for associates who had retained his consulting firm before the election.

Attorneys for Flynn and Copson did not immediately return email and phone requests for comment. And one of the companies involved in the project covered his travel expenses and wrote him a check for $25,000 for the trip, though it's not clear if Flynn cashed the check.

Cummings told Gowdy in his letter that he found the witness "authentic, credible and reliable". Cummings said his office could not verify the whistleblower's story, and whether Copson was telling the whistleblower the truth, without subpoenaed documents.

Cummings has argued that the Flynn plea deal should alleviate that concern.

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Flynn told a business associate Russian sanctions would be 'ripped up'