President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in rebuffing a subpoena Monday in the investigation into Russia's election meddling, the AP reports. Flynn's attorneys told the Senate intelligence committee he will not turn over personal documents sought under the congressional subpoena, citing an "escalating public frenzy." They also said earlier in the day the Justice Department's appointment of a special counsel has created a legally dangerous environment for him to cooperate with the Senate panel's investigation. Hours later, Rep. Elijah Cummings, senior Democrat on the House oversight committee, said government documents he's reviewed appeared to show Flynn lied on his security clearance background check in early 2016.
Flynn's response to the Senate committee stressed that his decision to invoke his constitutional protection was not an admission of wrongdoing but rather a response to a political climate in which Democratic members of Congress are calling for his prosecution. Even "truthful responses of an innocent witness" can give the government ammunition that could be used against him, the attorneys noted, quoting a 2001 Supreme Court ruling. Flynn's defensive crouch revealed the high legal stakes he faces as investigations intensify: a US counterintelligence probe of Russia, a federal investigation in Virginia, and multiple congressional inquiries. Also on the Russia front, the Washington Post reported Monday that Trump asked two top intelligence chiefs in March to deny publicly that there had been collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign. Citing current and former officials, the Post said both refused Trump's request, judging it inappropriate.