May 23, 2017 / 8:59 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. Senate panel says it will subpoena Michael Flynn businesses

FILE PHOTO - White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017.Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said on Tuesday they would subpoena two of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's businesses after Flynn declined to comply with a subpoena for documents in the panel's Russia probe.

"While we disagree with General Flynn's lawyers' interpretation of taking the Fifth ... it's even more clear that a business does not have a right to take the Fifth," the panel's vice chairman, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, told reporters, referring to Flynn's decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The committee issued a subpoena for Flynn to provide documents related to its investigation of possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and whether there was collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations and Trump denies any collusion.

Flynn's attorney said on Monday he declined to comply.

Flynn is considered a key witness in the investigation, because of his ties to Russia. He was forced to resign from his position at the White House in February, after less than a month on the job, for failing to disclose the content of his talks with Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States, and misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Warner and the panel's chairman, Republican Richard Burr, said the committee would take three actions in response to Flynn's refusal to respond to their subpoena, the two subpoenas to his businesses, and a letter to Flynn's attorney pushing back against his refusal to comply.

"We're taking options that we feel are appropriate right now," Burr told reporters after a closed committee meeting.

Burr said a possible contempt of Congress action was a possibility, but not until other measures were exhausted.

"That's not our preference today. We would like to hear from General Flynn. We would like to see his documents," Burr said. "We would like him to tell his story because he publicly said: 'I've got a story to tell.' We're allowing him that opportunity to tell it."

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Eric Beech and Peter Cooney

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