GOP senator: Trump needs to be 'very careful' on pardons of soldiers charged with war crimes
Dems launch investigation into Trump administration's dealings with Saudi Arabia
Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee announced Tuesday they are launching an investigation into the Trump administration's dealings with Saudi Arabia after several whistleblowers expressed concern about efforts to sell the kingdom nuclear technology.
The announcement came in conjunction with the release of a report by committee staff that said senior White House officials pushed for the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia despite warnings from ethics advisers and national security officials to stop.
"Based on this snapshot of events, the committee is now launching an investigation to determine whether the actions being pursued by the Trump administration are in the national security interests of the United States or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy," the report said.
To continue the investigation, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) sent letters to several people and organizations involved with promoting the plan, including the White House, the CIA, the Flynn Intel Group, IP3 and the departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, State and Treasury.
The version of the letter sent to the White House, which was released by the committee, asks for documents by March 5 related to the nuclear power plan from Trump's inauguration to the present.
Among the concerns, according to the report, are that ethics officials raised red flags about former national security adviser Michael Flynn's connection to a company dedicated to building nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.
The report cites several unnamed whistleblowers who said they witnessed "abnormal acts" inside the White House regarding efforts to sell Saudi Arabia nuclear energy reactors.
The whistleblowers "have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes," the report said. "They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting.
"And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump administration officials to halt their efforts."
A spokesman for the National Security Council (NSC) did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
The company at issue is called IP3 International. Flynn was an adviser to the company from June 2016 to December 2016 at the same time he served on Trump's presidential campaign and transition team.
IP3 did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.
Flynn was named national security adviser to Trump but resigned after serving just a few weeks. In December 2017, he pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI.
During the first week of the Trump administration, the report said, Flynn confidant Derek Harvey relayed that Flynn had made the decision during the transition to adopt IP3's nuclear plan for Saudi Arabia, dubbed the Middle East Marshall Plan.
Career staff warned that the law requires an agreement, known as a 123 agreement, to sell nuclear reactors to other countries to ensure it meets nonproliferation standards, according to the report.
But days after Trump's inauguration, IP3 sent Flynn a memo intended for Trump to approve that endorsed the Middle East Marshall Plan and named Trump confidant Tom Barrack as the special representative to carry out the nuclear power proposal.
The National Security Council's ethics and legal advisers also reportedly concluded that Flynn had a potential conflict of interest that could violate the law, the report added.
"As a result, NSC Legal Advisor John Eisenberg instructed NSC staff to cease all work on the plan," the report said.
But the White House continued work on the plan, even after Flynn was fired in February 2017.
On March 24, 2017, multiple employees raised concerns to the National Security Council legal adviser, according to the report. After that, then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster told staff they should stop all work on the proposal, according to the report.
"However, NSC staff remained concerned because the same individuals continued their work on IP3's proposal," the report said.
The report cites a Feb. 12 White House meeting between staff and nuclear power developers to discuss sharing nuclear technology with Middle East countries as an example of the work, as well as a planned trip to the Middle East by White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.