Michael Flynn’s Russia connections back in the spotlight

The former national security adviser is asking for immunity for his testimony.

That request, however, appears to have been rebuffed by both the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. Two sources told ABC News that the Senate Intelligence Committee described Flynn’s proposal as a “non-starter.” The House committee released a statement calling the request a “grave and momentous step,” adding that it’s too early to consider a request for immunity.

In a statement, Flynn’s lawyer said “no reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel, would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized, witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution.”

Trump came to Flynn’s defense on Twitter, saying "this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!"

During a rally in Wisconsin last year Trump said, “The reason they get immunity is because they did something wrong, if they didn’t do anything wrong, they don’t think in terms of immunity.”

Talking and Texting With an Ambassador

While Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact with Kislyak during Trump's campaign when Sessions was still a senator and Trump surrogate, Flynn's known contacts with Kislyak are not believed to have started until during the transition.

Spicer told reporters in a transition team phone call on Jan. 13 that Flynn had texted Kislyak, wishing the Russian ambassador Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Flynn also said he looked forward to working with Kislyak, according to Spicer.

Four days after the Christmas text exchange, the two spoke again by text, with Kislyak asking Flynn to arrange a phone call. Flynn's and Kislyak’s call "centered around the logistics of setting up a call with the president of Russia and the president-elect after he was sworn in,” Spicer said, adding, "they exchanged logistical information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it. Plain and simple."

Spicer later told ABC News the two discussed a number of topics on the phone, including the crash of a Russian military plane carrying an army choir on Christmas Day and an invitation from the Russian government to the incoming Trump administration to attend upcoming Syrian peace talks.

The conversations between Flynn and Kislyak were happening at the same time the Obama administration was sanctioning Russia for election hacking.

Flynn had initially told Pence that he had not spoken about the sanctions with the Russian ambassador, but that was not the case.

Payments Before the Presidential Bid

Russia's state-owned TV network, RT, paid $45,000 for the retired three-star general to speak at what the Russian organizers described as a "private, invitation-only conference,” to Leading Authorities, the speakers bureau that represented Flynn. Flynn’s fee was $33,750; the remainder was the agent’s fee.

"General Flynn worked with a speakers bureau and what you're seeing is a result of that," Flynn's spokesman Price Floyd told ABC News on March 16.

Floyd said he did not know if the retired general felt misled by RT in its correspondence before the 10th anniversary gala, which offered vague answers to questions from the speakers bureau about who else would attend. But he said Flynn informed defense intelligence officials both before and after the gala that he was attending as a paid guest. The emails were voluntarily handed over to the committee by Flynn's speaker bureau at the committee's request.

"General Flynn informed and briefed DIA before his trip to Russia that he was going to get paid for it. On his return, he briefed DIA about his trip to Russia," Floyd said.

But Democrats claim the RT fee, as well as additional payments totaling $22,500 to Flynn by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab and Volga-Dnepr Airlines, add up to a clear violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which prohibits retired generals from accepting direct or indirect payments from foreign governments, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee's ranking member.

Cummings asked the Pentagon to investigate Flynn for this shortly before Trump asked for his resignation in February.

In a new letter released on March 16, Cummings charged that Flynn had "violated the Constitution" by accepting such payments from "an agent of a global adversary that attacked our democracy," an apparent reference to U.S. intelligence agencies' assessment that Russian government-directed hackers had pilfered emails of the Democratic National Committee and Secretary Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Ties to Turkey

Russia is not the only foreign agent that Flynn is known to have ties to; it was revealed after his resignation that Flynn had done lobbying work prior to his appointment as national security adviser that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey," according to documents filed with the Department of Justice.

A source familiar with the situation tells ABC News Flynn informed the White House counsel team both during the transition and after the inauguration that he would have to file as a foreign agent because of the work he did on behalf of the Turkish government.

This source could not say if Flynn first made the team aware of his situation before or after President-elect Trump announced on Nov. 18 that he would be appointing the former general as his national security adviser.