Top White House aides ignored repeated warnings they could be breaking the law as they worked with former U.S. officials and a close friend of President Donald Trump to advance a multi-billion-dollar plan to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East, Democratic lawmakers alleged in a report released Tuesday.
The House of Representatives Oversight Committee report said former national security adviser Michael Flynn and two aides promoted the plan with Tom Barrack, the chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, and a consortium of U.S. firms led by retired military commanders and former White House officials.
The effort, the report said, began before Trump took office and continued after his inauguration in January 2017 despite National Security Council staff warnings that a proposed transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia was being fast-tracked around a mandatory approval process in possible breach of the Atomic Energy Act.
John Eisenberg, the top NSC lawyer, had ordered the work halted because of concerns that Flynn could be breaking a conflict of interest law as he advised the consortium while serving on Trump’s campaign and transition team, said the report, which is based on documents and whistleblower accounts.
Administration support for the project, however, appears to have continued to the present, with Trump meeting consortium representatives in the Oval Office last week, the committee report said.
“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,” the report said.
The report, compiled by the Democratic staff of the panel chaired by Representative Elijah Cummings, comes as Democrats expand inquiries into alleged administration wrongdoing after winning a majority in the House in November elections.
The nuclear project is being promoted by IP3 International, a consortium of U.S. technology firms founded by retired Navy Rear Admiral Michael Hewitt, retired Army General John Keane, and Robert McFarlane, a former national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan. The board includes former senior U.S. civilian and military officials.
The report said the companies include reactor manufacturer Westinghouse, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year.
The White House, Flynn and IP3 had no immediate response to the report.
PLAN FOR DOZENS OF REACTORS
Working with the U.S. government, the consortium would build dozens of power reactors in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other U.S. Arab allies, according to the IP3 website. In doing so, the project would help restore U.S. influence in the Middle East while boosting regional economic and political stability, according to the website.
Flynn, a retired Army general, promoted the plan on two 2015 trips to Saudi Arabia, and listed himself on government documents as an IP3 advisor during a period in 2016 while he was working for Trump’s campaign and transition, the report said.