Former national security adviser Michael Flynn sued the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot on Tuesday, claiming its subpoenas violate his right to free speech and his right against self-incrimination.
"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," says the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Florida, where Flynn lives.
In a letter to Flynn last month, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the committee's chair, said the panel wanted to ask him about a meeting he had with then-President Donald Trump and others in the Oval Office in December 2020. During the meeting, the letter says, "participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud."
The letter noted that Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general who briefly was Trump's national security adviser, made similar suggestions in an interview with Newsmax the day before the meeting.
Flynn's lawsuit makes many of the same arguments other Trump allies have put forth to challenge their subpoenas, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and radio host Alex Jones. It contends that the House committee doesn't have the power to issue subpoenas because it doesn't have enough Republican members and because it lacks the necessary "legislative purpose" — an argument a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., has already knocked down.
The nine-member House panel consists of two Republicans and seven Democrats.
Flynn's lawyer argued in Tuesday's lawsuit that Flynn had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and accused the committee of overreaching with its subpoenas. The suit says the panel made "a broad set of document requests that pertain to his 1st Amendment activity as a private citizen, including the basis of his political beliefs, what he communicated about his political beliefs, and to whom he communicated those political beliefs."
The House committee did not respond to a request for comment.
It argues that the committee is also violating Flynn's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by asking for documents involving a nonprofit organization founded by former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, of which Flynn was briefly the director. The Justice Department is investigating the group, called Defending the Republic, the suit says.
"Compelling General Flynn to produce the types of records identified in the Subpoena would violate General Flynn’s 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to the extent that admissions that certain records exist, that they are in his possession, and that they are authentic may be used as evidence against him in the aforementioned criminal investigation," the suit says.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
Flynn's lawsuit went on to say he is concerned that he could face a criminal contempt charge if he does not cooperate with the Jan. 6 panel.
"General Flynn is caught between alternatives that both risk criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice, either in an ongoing criminal probe, or in a new prosecution for contempt of Congress," the suit says.
Justice Department has prosecuted Flynn before. He pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about a conversation he had with a Russian diplomat when he was cooperating with former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He later stopped cooperating and sought to withdraw the guilty plea. Trump granted him a full pardon last year.
The suit filed Tuesday says Flynn "was famously led into a perjury trap" by the FBI.