Dems investigating whether Flynn promoted nuclear reactor project as Trump's national security adviser

WASHINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Democratic lawmakers are probing whether retired U.S. General Michael Flynn secretly promoted a U.S.-Russian project to build dozens of nuclear reactors in the Middle East after becoming President Donald Trump's first national security adviser.

Representatives Elijah Cummings and Eliot Engel made the disclosure in a letter they sent on Tuesday to Flynn's lawyer and executives of firms that developed the reactor scheme and for which Flynn's now-defunct consulting company worked.

"The American people deserve to know whether General Flynn was secretly promoting the private interests of these businesses while he was a (Trump) campaign adviser, transition official, or President Trump's national security adviser," the two said in the letter made public on Wednesday.

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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
National security adviser General Michael Flynn delivers a statement daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn arrives at the Trump Tower for meetings with US President-elect Donald Trump, in New York on November 17, 2016.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Retired United States Army lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn introduces Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump before he delivered a speech at The Union League of Philadelphia on September 7, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trump spoke about his plans to build up the military if elected. Recent national polls show the presidential race is tightening with two months until the election.

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, at podium, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign event with veterans at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., NW, where Trump stated he believes President Obama was born in the United States, September 16, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) yields the briefing room podium to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flynn said the White House is 'officially putting Iran on notice' for a recent missile test and support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, prepares to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled 'Current and Future Worldwide Threats,' featuring testimony by he and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn boards Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
National security adviser General Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (L) arrives at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) walks down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: (L-R) SCAD Dramatic writing professor Chris Auer, Producer Sandra Leviton, Executive producer and writer Michael Flynn, Tv literary agent Jeff Greenberg and Literary manager and producer Kaila York speak on stage during the 'Inside the Writers Room' event on Day One of aTVfest 2017 presented by SCAD on February 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.), National Security Advisor Designate speaks during a conference on the transition of the US Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the US Institute Of Peace in Washington DC, January 10, 2017. / AFP / CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, attends a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a hallmark of our democracy. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Michael Flynn walks out after a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R), talks with National Security Advisor Michael Flynn inside of the inaugural parade reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation's 45th president today. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, center, stands in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Donald Trump is slated to meet with AT&T Inc.'s top executives on Thursday to discuss the company's proposed $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. The president-elect has said he opposes the deal. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Gen. Michael T. Flynn (R) arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.) and National Security Advisor Designate and Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor during a ceremonial passing of authority while participating in a conference on the transition of the US Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the US Institute Of Peace in Washington DC, January 10, 2017. / AFP / CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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They asked Flynn's lawyer and executives of companies involved in the project to provide "all communications" they had with Flynn or other administration officials during the 2016 campaign, the post-election transition or Flynn's tenure as national security adviser.

Robert Kelner, Flynn's lawyer, declined to comment.

The project proposes to construct 40 nuclear reactors across the Middle East that would feed a regional electric grid. The reactors would be "proliferation proof," meaning they could not be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons.

Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Engel, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee, asked that the documents be provided by Oct. 4.

'SIGNIFICANT QUESTIONS'

Flynn is a central figure in a federal probe led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, into whether Trump aides colluded in an alleged Russian effort to boost Trump's presidential campaign. Russia has denied interfering in the U.S. election and Trump has said there was no collusion.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, fired Flynn on Feb. 13, 18 days after a top Justice Department official warned that the former Defense Intelligence Agency director could be blackmailed because Moscow knew he made misleading statements about his contacts with Russian officials.

Cummings and Engel sent their letter as part of an inquiry into the renewal of Flynn's 2016 Top Secret security clearance.

They said Flynn failed to disclose a June 2015 trip he made to Egypt and Israel to promote the reactor project to investigators reviewing his renewal application and that he also did not list the foreigners with whom he met.

RELATED: Members past and present of Trump's inner circle

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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
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Members past and present of President Trump's inner circle
Ivanka Trump: First daughter and presidential adviser
Gen. John Kelly: Former Secretary of Homeland Security, current White House chief of staff
Steve Bannon: Former White House chief strategist, no longer with the Trump administration
Jared Kushner: Son-in-law and senior adviser
Kellyanne Conway: Former Trump campaign manager, current counselor to the president
Reince Priebus: Former White House chief of staff, no longer with the Trump administration
Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Sarah Huckabee Sanders: White House press secretary
Donald Trump Jr.: First son to President Trump
Sean Spicer: Former White House press secretary, soon to be no longer with the Trump administration
Jeff Sessions: U.S. attorney general
Steve Mnuchin: Secretary of Treasury
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign chairman
Carter Page: Former foreign policy adviser to Trump's presidential campaign
Omarosa Manigault: Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison
Melania Trump: Wife to President Trump and first lady of the United States
Jason Miller: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Hope Hicks: White House Director of Strategic Communications
Mike Dubke: Former White House communications director, no longer with the Trump administration
Stephen Miller: Trump senior policy adviser
Corey Lewandowski: Former Trump campaign manager
Eric Trump: Son to President Trump
Rex Tillerson: Secretary of State
Michael Flynn: Former National Security Advisor, no longer with the Trump administration
Sebastian Gorka: Former deputy assistant to the president in the Trump administration, no longer in his White House role
Roger Stone: Former Trump campaign adviser, current host of Stone Cold Truth
Betsy DeVos: U.S. Education Secretary
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The lawmakers wrote that replies from the executives and Kelner to a June letter confirmed that Flynn made the trip.

"Based on your responses, it appears that General Flynn violated federal law," they wrote.

"Since these violations carry criminal penalties of up to five years in prison, we are providing your responses to Special Counsel Robert Mueller," they wrote to Kelner, Alex G. Copson of X-Co Dynamics/ACU Strategic Partners, and retired Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt of X-Co Dynamics/Ironbridge Group/IP3. All are private companies.

"Second, your responses raise significant questions about whether General Flynn continued to communicate with you and others about this project after the presidential election, after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, and after General Flynn assumed the post of national security adviser - without disclosing his foreign travel or contacts," the lawmakers added.

Donald Gross, counsel for ACU Strategic Partners, said the company has cooperated with the oversight committee in providing information about the project being developed along with Hewitt's IP3, and "General Flynn's limited involvement in June 2015."

Hewitt did not respond to a LinkedIn message seeking comment.

The proposed reactor project would be funded by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states and built and run by a consortium of U.S., Russian, French, Dutch, Arab, British, Ukrainian and Israeli firms. A promotional slide promoting the project said security would be provided by Rosoboron, a Russian state-owned arms exporter that is under U.S. sanctions. (Additional reporting by Warren Strobel in Washington and Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by John Walcott and Peter Cooney)

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