Source: The Guardian
Posted: April 25, 2017
Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, likely violated the law when he failed to disclose payments he had received from Russia and Turkey, the leading Republican and Democrat on the House oversight committee said on Tuesday.
Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, and ranking member Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, said it appeared Flynn had not received permission for or properly reported the funds he received from a 2015 speech in Russia and lobbying work his firm did for Turkey.
The two lawmakers also said the White House had refused to provide them with documents requested by the committee related to Flynn’s security clearance and payments from an organization with ties to foreign governments. The House oversight committee requested the documents last month.
The congressmen spoke to reporters after a classified meeting at which members reviewed documents provided by the Pentagon related to Flynn’s application for security clearance, which Cummings described as “extremely troubling”.
Chaffetz said he saw “no data” in the documents he reviewed that confirmed Flynn had complied with the law.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” Chaffetz said. “And it appears as if he did take that money, it was inappropriate and there are repercussions for a violation of law.”
In 2015, Flynn received about $45,000 for attending Russian state TV network RT’s gala dinner in Moscow, where he sat next to Russian president Vladimir Putin. He also received $530,000 for consulting work that likely benefited the Turkish government while working as a top adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.
“He was supposed to get permission, he was supposed to report it, and he didn’t,” Cummings said.
Cummings said he would like to call Flynn before the committee to explain “why he concealed these payments”. But the chairman said that the committee is unlikely to ask Flynn to testify as he believes it is the purview of the House intelligence committee.
Cummings called it “simply unacceptable” that the White House had refused to comply with the committee’s information request but stopped short of saying that the administration was blocking its investigation.
“I wouldn’t call it obstruction,” Cummings said.
Flynn was forced to resign in February when it emerged that he had lied to the vice-president, Mike Pence. Flynn said he had not discussed lifting US sanctions on Russia with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s US ambassador, but later admitted this was untrue.
In a statement, Flynn’s consul, Robert Kelner said: “As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA], a component agency of [Department of Defense], extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings.”
Last month, Flynn, through his lawyer, indicated he was willing to testify before the FBI and congressional committees about potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia in exchange for immunity.