The son of former national security adviser Michael Flynn is now a subject in the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The inquiry is focused, at least in part, on Michael G. Flynn's work for his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, NBC News reported. The line of inquiry was opened based on the younger Flynn’s connections to Russia, a country he previously traveled to with his father, according to four current and former government officials.
The former national security adviser brought his son with him on a 2015 trip to Moscow in which he delivered a paid speech at an event for RT, the state-sponsored news network formerly known as Russia Today. Russian President Vladimir Putin sat at the same table as the elder Flynn during the dinner.
"Any time a family member is identified as a subject that does increase pressure," Peter Smith, a former federal prosecutor, told NBC. "In the typical parent-child relationship the last thing any parent would want is for their child to get in trouble for something they initiated."
In this instance, Flynn’s connections with Russia are a major part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Following former FBI director James Comey's firing in May, the dismissed director said his firing came after Trump asked him to drop the investigation into the elder Flynn.
Flynn served as national security adviser for less than a month, resigning after reports came out about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The administration said it was not necessarily the nature of the discussions that caused Flynn to resign, but rather, the fact he misled Vice President Mike Pence about having the conversations. The FBI was investigating Flynn before Mueller was appointed, and the probe has now grown to include his son.
The younger Flynn served as his father’s chief of staff at Flynn Intel Group and played a major role in business operations, a former business associate told NBC. The extent of his involvement with the presidential transition is unclear: he had a government transition email address and was reportedly continuing to work with his father. However, Vice President Mike Pence announced the younger Flynn was not involved in the transition after he propagated the debunked "pizzagate" conspiracy theory on Twitter. The theory inspired an armed man to walk into Comet Ping Pong in Washington, D.C.
The younger Flynn's legal counsel, Barry Coburn, said he couldn't comment on the investigation.
The probe into Russian involvement in the election has grown a great deal since its inception in May. Also under investigation are former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, who have all denied colluding with Russia.
Mueller has impaneled a grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued subpoenas, and has even begun looking into Trump’s finances. Trump has dismissed charges of collusion with Russia, and his attorney criticized Mueller for taking the investigation into his financial history.