Yesterday, I wrote that we should “be cautious drawing any firm conclusions” from the report that Robert Mueller subpoenaed Trump’s bank records with Deutsche Bank, and the confusion that has stemmed from multiple clarifications that it’s a subpoena aimed at people related to Trump, or Manafort, or Trump LLCs, or other businesses affiliated with the Trump family all confirmed my suspicions that this report may be more nuanced and possibly less dramatic than at first glance.
Well, today we have another one like it—except with more credibility—since a sitting United States Congressman put the allegation on his letterhead. Per Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy:
Today, I am writing to inform you about a whistleblower who has come forward with evidence that Lt. General Michael Flynn—within minutes of Donald Trump being sworn in as president—was communicating directly with his former business colleagues about their plan to work with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East. According to this whistleblower, General Flynn reportedly sent a key communication on Inauguration Day indicating that the project was now “good to go” and directing his business colleagues to move forward.
If this was the extent of the allegations, this is a big ‘ol nothingburger. But it’s not. Cummings provided hard evidence that he wants to form the basis of a subpoena designed to uproot what really happened.
On January 20, 2017—Inauguration Day—the whistleblower attended an event in Washington D.C. At this event, the whistleblower met Alex Copson.
Mr. Copson is the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners and was working with General Flynn to promote a joint project with Russia to build nuclear reactors in the Arab world. Mr. Copson confirmed in a letter to me on June 27, 2017, that his company paid the expenses for a trip General Flynn made to the Middle East in June 2015 to promote his project and provided a $25,000 check to compensate him for the “loss of income and business opportunities resulting from this trip.”
During their conversation, Mr. Copson informed the whistleblower that he “just got this text message” from General Flynn that the project was “good to go” and directing Mr. Copson to contact their business colleagues to “let them know to put things in place.”
Mr. Copson quickly showed the whistleblower his phone with the text message. The whistleblower saw that the time stamp of the message was 12:11 pm, but did not read the text.
So what we have is a second-hand account of text messages allegedly sent by Michael Flynn. The story itself is incredibly flimsy, save for the fact that a sitting Congressman put his name behind it and he is demanding that the committee issue a legal order to drill down to any truth embedded in the account that was brought to him. Given the seriousness of the charge and the person making it, if the committee isn’t going to issue a subpoena, Robert Mueller almost certainly will. Be patient with this story, and if it’s legit, additional corroborating evidence will assuredly emerge. If this is true, then we have a crystal-clear example of a high-level Trump administration official easing sanctions on Russia in order to enrich himself.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.