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Congress asks Snyder to address Legionnaires' testimony

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A congressional committee asked Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday to address when he learned about a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires' disease during the Flint water crisis, warning that it is a crime to commit perjury or to obstruct a congressional investigation.

Reps. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, gave Snyder until Oct. 25 to respond. Their letter was sent less than a week after one of the Republican governor's aides testified in a Michigan courtroom that he told him about Legionnaires' during a phone call before Christmas 2015.

Snyder previously told the congressional panel under oath that he learned of the Legionnaires' cases in January 2016.

"In order to resolve this discrepancy in recollection, please supply the Committee with any additional relevant information you have concerning the date upon which you first learn of the Legionnaires' disease," Gowdy and Cummings wrote. "If necessary, you may also choose to amend or supplement your testimony."

They then noted that it is a crime for a witness to commit perjury, to "knowingly and willfully" make any false statement or to "corruptly" influence, obstruct or impede a congressional investigation.

A Snyder spokesman said this week that Snyder stands by his congressional testimony.

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 was not 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.

The Snyder administration's handling of the Legionnaires' outbreak has led to involuntary manslaughter charges against six people, including health department director Nick Lyon, who knew about the outbreak months before the governor. Prosecutors allege that a timely announcement could have saved lives.

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