(CN) – Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination on Monday, declining to hand over documents sought under subpoena by a Senate panel investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
In a letter to the Senate intelligence committee, attorneys for Flyyn justified the decision by citing an “escalating public frenzy against him. ” The letter went on to say the Justice Department’s recent appointment of a special counsel has created a legally dangerous environment for him to cooperate with the panel’s investigation.
“The context in which the committee has called for General Flynn’s testimonial production of documents makes clear that he has more than a reasonable apprehension that any testimony he provides could be used against him,” the attorneys wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Associated Press.
Flynn’s decision not to cooperate with the Senate committee represents a new legal complication for the expanding government and congressional inquiries into Russian interference in the presidential campaign and contacts between Trump advisers and Russian officials and representatives.
Flynn is a key figure in both the FBI investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller and in separate Senate and House inquiries.
Flynn’s letter comes less than two weeks after the committee issued a subpoena for Flynn’s personal documents. He had previously sought immunity from “unfair prosecution” to cooperate with the committee.
The retired Army Lieutenant general was fired by President Donald Trump in February after it was revealed he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other senior official about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The Senate committee is one of several congressional inquiries investigating possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Flynn is also the target of other congressional investigations as well as an ongoing FBI counterintelligence probe and a separate federal investigation in Virginia.
In addition to scrutiny over Flynn’s relationship with Russia, investigators are also exploring his potential conflicts of interest related to Turkey.
Flynn received payments from Inovo BV, a Dutch consulting firm with ties to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, while he worked on the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.
Dana Boente, acting head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, announced earlier this month that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond, Virginia had submitted a series of federal grand jury subpoenas for info on Flynn’s business associates.
Those subpoenas seek information of Flynn’s business dealings since he retired from the Army in 2014.