By: Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown, of CNN
Washington (CNN)Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.
The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.
Robert Kelner, an attorney for Flynn, declined to comment. The US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, the Justice Department and the FBI also declined to comment.
Investigators have been looking into possible wrongdoing in how Flynn handled disclosures about payments from clients tied to foreign governments including Russia and Turkey, US officials briefed on the matter have told CNN.
The Flynn inquiry is one piece of the broader investigation, which FBI Director James Comey testified in a Senate hearing last week is led jointly by the Alexandria US Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
Flynn was forced to resign as Trump’s national security advisor in February after failing to disclose the nature of phone discussions with Russia’s ambassador in Washington, Sergey Kislyak.
Congressional investigators have also accused Flynn of possibly breaking the law by not properly disclosing a $45,000 payment for an appearance he made at an event in Moscow to celebrate Russia Today. The Russian government-funded news outlet that US intelligence agencies say played a key role in disseminating stolen emails intended to damage the candidacy of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.