President Trump's first national security advisor, Michael T. 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.
The witness provided the account to Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who detailed the allegations in a letter Wednesday to the panel's chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.).
"During their conversation, Mr. Copson informed the whistleblower that he "just got this text message" from General Flynn saying that the project - "involving a joint partnership between the United States and Russian Federation relating to the energy sector in the Middle East" - was "good to go".
The whistle-blower told Mr Cummings that he saw a text from Flynn that was sent on Jan 20 "approximately ten minutes" into Mr Trump's speech when Flynn was sitting in the audience.
Mr. Copson told the whistle-blower that Mr. Flynn had sent him a text message during Mr. Trump's inaugural address, directing him to tell others involved in the nuclear project to continue developing their plans.
Cummings did not name the whistleblower in the letter, but offered to have Gowdy speak with the person directly. The letter asks that the committee issue subpoenas for Flynn-related documents the committee requested on a bipartisan basis in March. "This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people".
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Mr Cummings's letter goes on to relate that during the conversation, Mr Copson told the whistle-blower that he "just got a text message" from Flynn that the project was "good to go" and to contact their business colleagues to "let them know to put things in place".
On December 29, the day the Obama administration imposed new sanctions and expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the United States in retaliation for Moscow's election meddling, Flynn called Kislyak and asked that Russia not escalate the situation, according to court documents.
On Friday, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about conversations he had in December 2016 with the Russian ambassador to the United States about the sanctions, among other topics.
"Mike has been putting everything in place for us", Copson said, according to the whistleblower. Now Cummings wants to look into the matter.
Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Cummings have a long history of clashing publicly over politically charged investigations. "I am going to celebrate today". But the whistleblower says he or she could not read the actual message.
Flynn had worked as a consultant for ACU Strategic Partners, the group pushing the proposed nuclear deal, in 2015 and 2016. Copson, who had previously employed Flynn to advise on the deal to build nuclear power plants with Russian Federation, told the whistleblower that it was the "best day of my life".
ACU Strategic Partners issued a statement on Wednesday saying, "No member of ACU received any communication in any form from General Flynn during the presidential campaign, the presidential transition, the inauguration, the period following the inauguration when General Flynn served as national security adviser or subsequent to General Flynn's resignation".