Trump calls Russia probe 'witch hunt' as Flynn seeks immunity

The White House today said that US President Donald Trump wants former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to testify to Congress over allegations that he colluded with Russian Federation during the 2016 presidential elections.

He was referring to the fact that Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, had informed the White House in January that Flynn had apparently misrepresented the nature of his communications with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, saying they had not spoken about USA sanctions against Russia - when they had. And that has all of Washington wondering what exactly that could be. A wide-ranging grant of immunity could protect Flynn from potential future charges from the Justice Department, but Congress has the power to grant only limited "testimonial" immunity, which means prosecutors cannot use witnesses' testimony against them in any prosecution.

A US intelligence official told NBC News that Flynn had discussed the hacking-related sanctions with Kislyak prior to Trump's inauguration.

"This is not a witch hunt", he said. Flynn's overture seemed to have been aimed principally at the Senate committee, as Democrats on the House committee said they had not received word of an offer of testimony for immunity.

Flynn's ties to Russian Federation have been scrutinized by the FBI and are under investigation by the House and Senate intelligence committees.

Though still in the process of deliberation, the House Intelligence Committee acknowledged the request of Flynn's attorney.

Flynn was sacked from his job as Trump's first national security adviser after it was disclosed that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the US during the transition.

The White House on Friday began releasing scores of disclosures from Trump administration officials.

Trump weighed in Friday, tweeting that Flynn "should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!"

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Flynn had also sought immunity from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in exchange for testimony.

In his resignation letter, Flynn said that he had "inadvertently briefed the vice-president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador". "He said he should get immunity".

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump just wants Flynn to testify and that there are no concerns that Flynn could implicate the president in any wrongdoing.

"The president is very clear that he wants Mike Flynn to go and be completely open and transparent with the committee and whatever it takes to do that he is supportive of", Spicer replied.

However, Flynn's offer was rejected and he was told the move was "wildly preliminary" and "not on the table" at this point, a senior congressional official told NBC.

During the Obama administration, former IRS official Lois Lerner sought immunity for her testimony to Congress, which was investigating how she and other officials scrutinized conservative groups.

Critics assailed the president over his tweet, noting that during last year's campaign, Trump said in a speech that "If you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?"

Boris Volodarsky, a former GRU agent and a historian of the Soviet and Russian secret services who knows both Ms Lokhova and Mr Andrew, said to his knowledge she does not have an intelligence service background.