Snyder sticking to story about Legionnaires’

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is sticking by his congressional testimony about when he learned about a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis, despite a senior aide’s new disclosure that he informed the Republican governor weeks earlier.

Some Democrats in Congress are pouncing on the conflict and urging the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate.

“One thing that all members of this committee — Democrats and Republicans — agree on is that witnesses testifying before us must tell the truth,” said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the Republican-controlled panel.

It’s a crime to lie to Congress if the false statement was made intentionally and was also “material — meaning, roughly, non-trivial,” said Darryl Brown, a professor at University of Virginia law school.

“It would definitely be material if a false statement about when he learned of the outbreak covered a period when the government could have done something and they didn’t,” Brown said.

On the other hand, it’s possible Snyder believes “he didn’t confirm Legionnaires’ or believe it himself until he heard something more definitive in January,” Brown said.

Nearly 100 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths, were reported in Genesee County in 2014-15 when Flint was using the Flint River for water. The outbreak wasn’t publicly announced until Snyder and his health chief held a news conference in January 2016. It was a remarkable sidebar to Flint’s ongoing disaster: a lead-contaminated water supply.

Snyder gave the same timeline when he was summoned to Washington in March 2016 to explain how his administration contributed to the Flint water mess.