WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn appeared before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Thursday, in response to a subpoena asking him to testify about an Oval Office meeting at which, the panel said, then-President Donald Trump and others discussed seizing voting machines, several people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
Flynn did not answer the committee’s questions, exercising his Fifth Amendment right on the advice of counsel, his lead attorney, David Warrington, said in a statement.
The committee sent a letter to Flynn in November demanding that he testify about the meeting on Dec. 18, 2020. In the letter, the committee wrote that the participants discussed declaring a national emergency. The plan was part of the effort to spread the false message that the presidential election the previous month was “tainted by widespread fraud,” according to the letter.
The committee, composed of seven Democrats and two Republicans, is conducting an exhaustive investigation into all aspects of the assault on the Capitol and efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.
Flynn’s testimony is valuable in that, according to the committee, he was a firsthand participant in a meeting in which a variety of measures were discussed that could have undermined public confidence in the election’s integrity. Post-election audits and litigation have shown that there was no widespread fraud that would have nullified Biden’s victory.
Flynn had also given an interview to Newsmax TV the day before in which he discussed the “purported precedent” for invoking martial law and deploying troops to “rerun” the election, the committee’s letter said. Flynn is a retired lieutenant general who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser in 2017.
In his statement, Warrington said that while deposing Flynn, the committee’s staff “insinuated” that by declining to answer questions, Flynn was admitting guilt. That suggestion, Warrington added, “conflicts with nearly 250 years of American jurisprudence” and also shows a “disturbing denial of the meaning and existence of this vital Constitutional right.”
Flynn had sued the committee in December in hopes of blocking the subpoena and the demand for documents in his possession. The suit, filed in federal court in Florida, where Flynn lives, said, “Without intervention by this Court, General Flynn faces the harm of being irreparably and illegally coerced to produce information and testimony in violation of the law and his constitutional rights.”
The judge in the case denied Flynn’s motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the subpoena.
Peter Nicholas is a senior national political reporter for NBC News.
Garrett Haake is an NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent.