Former US national security adviser Michael Flynn speaks to supporters of then-US President Donald Trump during the Million MAGA March to protest the outcome of the 2020 presidential election in front of the US Supreme Court on December 12, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Washington CNN  — 

Michael Flynn, former President Donald Trump’s onetime national security adviser, invoked his Fifth Amendment right during a deposition before the January 6 committee on Thursday, declining to answer the panel’s questions.

Flynn – who met with the committee virtually – invoked the Fifth “on advice of counsel,” his attorney, David Warrington, said in a statement that accused the panel of insinuating “General Flynn’s decision to decline to answer their questions constituted an admission of guilt.”

“Most of the questions lacked any relation to the legislative purpose contained in House Resolution 503, and many were clearly sourced from fringe news and conspiracy websites and rumors. No American should have to endure such harassment by the legislative branch of our government,” Warrington claimed.

The committee, which is investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, is interested in Flynn because he reportedly attended a December 2020 Oval Office meeting “during which participants discussed seizing voting machines, declaring a national emergency, invoking certain national security emergency powers, and continuing to spread the false message that the November 2020 election had been tainted by widespread fraud.”

He had sued to block the committee’s attempts to interview him and to obtain records related to his activity leading up to and on January 6, but lost that battle in court.

Invoking the Fifth Amendment is usually done to avoid answering specific questions. While taking the Fifth can have negative implications depending on the circumstance, the US Supreme Court has long regarded the right against self-incrimination as a venerable part of the Constitution and tried to ensure that a witness’ silence not be equated with guilt.

Former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark pleaded the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times during his deposition with the January 6 committee last month, a source familiar with the interview told CNN. And Roger Stone, another staunch ally of Trump, invoked the Fifth to every question asked during his deposition in December.

Flynn has long faced tribulations in court since he lied in 2017 to the FBI and then-Vice President Mike Pence while serving as national security adviser in the Trump White House. He lost his job over the episode and pleaded guilty in federal court to making false statements.

But he was pardoned by Trump near the end of the administration and became a public voice in right-wing circles touting a false belief that Trump lost the election because of widespread voter fraud.