Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told a business associate in January that one of the Trump administration's first priorities would be to "rip up" the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in December, according to a whistleblower who described the incident to a Democratic congressman.
"The account is the strongest evidence to date that the Trump administration wanted to end the sanctions immediately, and suggests that Mr. Flynn had a possible economic incentive for the United States to forge a closer relationship with Russian Federation".
The whistleblower told House Democrats that while Trump spoke at his inauguration, Flynn texted from his seat on the Capitol steps to Alex Copson, the managing director of ACU Strategic Partners and the nuclear project's main promoter.
Copson told the whistle-blower that Flynn was making sure the sanctions would be ripped up, which would allow money to start flowing into the project.
Former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn was texting with a private business associate even as Donald Trump delivered his inauguration address, a whistleblower says.
"Mike has been putting everything in place for us.This is going to make a lot of very wealthy people", Copson told the whistleblower, according to Cummings' letter.
The allegation posed new troubles for Flynn, who left the White House after barely three weeks and pleaded guilty last week to lying to FBI investigators in the Russian Federation election meddling probe.
Cummings, in a letter to Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee, detailed the whistleblower's allegations and called on the committee to subpoena Flynn to testify.
A spokesperson for Gowdy's office did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday, nor did the lawyer who represents ACU Strategic Partners.
The episode indicates that Trump officials had planned to jettison sanctions that the Obama administration had imposed on Russian Federation.
Cummings has been critical of his Republican colleague Gowdy's leadership in their investigation of Flynn.
Cummings said the whistleblower, whom he did not identify in the letter, "fears retaliation", but would speak with Gowdy if he agrees to protect the whistleblower's identity. 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. The whistleblower also said that Copson intimated that US financial sanctions hobbling the nuclear project were going to be "ripped up". "I have spoken to this whistleblower, and I find this person to be authentic, credible, and reliable", Cummings wrote.
The company did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
The allegations posed new troubles for Flynn, who left the White House last February after barely three weeks and pleaded guilty last week to lying to FBI investigators in the Russian Federation election meddling probe.
Flynn was involved in the Middle Eastern nuclear project from spring 2015 to the end of 2016, according to recent financial disclosure filings, a period that overlapped with his role as a prominent adviser to Trump's campaign and transition.