President Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, texted a former business associate on Inauguration Day that Obama-era sanctions against Russia would be "ripped up" and that a lucrative proposal to build nuclear reactors with Russian partners in the Middle East was "good to go," a witness has told Congress.
Rep. Elijah E. 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 "credible" allegation that Flynn "sought to manipulate the course of international nuclear policy for the financial gain of his former business partners."
Flynn pleaded guilty on 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 that Flynn sought to help the nuclear deal proceed after he joined the White House. He was ousted as national security advisor 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 "good to go," according to Cummings.
"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.
After getting the texts, Copson said, "Mike has been putting everything in place for us," and, "This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people," 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 that Copson said were from Flynn, but that 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.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters that he wanted the witness' claims about Flynn to be investigated by the House Intelligence Committee, which also is examining Russia's role in the election. Gowdy sits on both panels.
3:40 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Rep. Trey Gowdy.