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Lawmakers:Flynn May Have Broken US Law 04/26 06:17

   President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, 
appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek permission or inform the 
U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian 
organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House oversight 
committee say.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump's former national security 
adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek 
permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of 
dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a 
House oversight committee say.

   The congressmen also raised new questions about fees Flynn received as part 
of $530,000 in consulting work his company performed for a businessman tied to 
Turkey's government.

   The bipartisan accusations that Flynn may have broken the law come as his 
foreign contacts are being examined by other congressional committees as part 
of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential ties 
between Trump associates and the Kremlin. Congress returned earlier this week 
from its spring recess, and Tuesday's announcements reflected renewed interest 
on Capitol Hill.

   Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said they saw no 
evidence that Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, properly disclosed 
foreign payments he received to military officials or on his security clearance 
paperwork. Flynn, who headed the military's top intelligence agency, was 
Trump's national security adviser until he was fired in February.

   Among the payments in question was more than $33,000 that Flynn received in 
2015 from the Russia Today television network, which has been described by U.S. 
intelligence officials as a propaganda front for Russia's government.

   "That money needs to be recovered," said Chaffetz, chairman of the House 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

   Chaffetz said Flynn was obligated as a retired Army officer to request 
permission from both the Defense and State departments about prospective 
foreign government payments before he received them. "There was nothing in the 
data to show that Gen. Flynn complied with the law," Chaffetz said.

   Cummings said Flynn's failure to formally report the Russian payments on his 
security clearance paperwork amounted to concealment of the money, which could 
be prosecuted as a felony.

   Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, said Flynn reported his plans to travel to 
Russia to his former agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and he briefed 
officials there after he returned. Kelner declined to answer questions about 
whether Flynn properly disclosed the payments.

   The congressmen spoke after reviewing classified documents regarding Flynn 
that were provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency. They were also briefed 
by agency officials. The congressmen declined to describe in detail the 
materials they reviewed. But Cummings said the documents were "extremely 
troubling" and he urged the administration to declassify them.

   Chaffetz and Cummings said they planned to write to the comptroller of the 
Army and the Defense Department's inspector general for a final determination 
as to whether Flynn broke the law and whether the government needs to pursue 
criminal charges and seek to recover the payments Flynn received.

   Cummings also criticized the White House for refusing to turn over documents 
the committee requested about Flynn's foreign contacts during his three-week 
stint as national security adviser. In response to a letter to White House 
Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, an administration official told the committee 
that documents relating to those contacts likely contained classified and other 
sensitive information, weren't relevant to the committee's investigation and 
could not be turned over.

   "That is simply unacceptable," Cummings said.

   At the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the committee's request 
for Flynn's security clearance information was referred to the Defense 
Department, which turned over documents. He said the White House did not 
release a detailed list of Flynn's contacts with foreign officials, a request 
he dismissed as "outlandish."

   Spicer said that the president was confident in his decision to fire Flynn 
in February on grounds that Flynn had misled the vice president about a 
conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the 
transition. Spicer declined to say whether the White House believed Flynn had 
violated the law. He said the conduct occurred before Flynn was appointed 
national security adviser in January.

   Flynn had led the DIA until 2014, when he was forced to retire by the Obama 
administration.

   During his briefings, Flynn "answered any questions that were posed by DIA 
concerning the trip," said Kelner, his lawyer.

   A spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency, Jim Kudla, has said that 
Flynn briefed the agency in advance about his trip to Moscow "in accordance 
with standard security clearance procedures." A spokesman for Flynn has said 
that Flynn also disclosed the RT trip when he last came up for a security 
clearance review in January 2016.

   Chaffetz and Cummings said the documents they reviewed showed no evidence 
Flynn asked permission for the payments or later detailed the amounts he 
received to military authorities. Chaffetz added that while "it would be a bit 
strong to say that Flynn flat-out lied," he should have sought and received 
permission before accepting any foreign government payments.

   Both Cummings and Chaffetz said the committee's investigation into Flynn's 
foreign payments includes examining consulting work he did for a Turkish 
businessman last year.

   Flynn's firm last month registered as a foreign agent with the Justice 
Department for the consulting work and acknowledged that it may have 
principally benefited the government of Turkey. Flynn's client, Inovo BV, is 
owned by a Turkish businessman who is also a member of a committee overseen by 
Turkey's finance ministry. In government filings, Flynn disclosed that he 
personally received between $50,000 and $100,000 as part of his stake in Flynn 
Intel Group, the company that performed the foreign agent work.

   Earlier Tuesday, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee announced a public meeting 
May 8 to hear testimony for the first time from the former acting attorney 
general, Sally Yates, who played a role in Flynn's firing.

   Yates was supposed to testify publicly before the House intelligence 
committee in March, but that was canceled and has yet to be rescheduled. Some 
Democrats believe the White House wants to limit what Yates says publicly, but 
the White House has denied this. Former National Intelligence Director James 
Clapper is also to testify at the May 8 hearing.

   Also Tuesday, there were complaints that the Senate investigation was not 
moving quickly enough. Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein of 
California said they believed the committee needed to move at a faster pace.

   Preliminary interviews now have been completed with about 27 individuals 
from multiple intelligence agencies. And there are nine staffers working 
full-time on the investigation, according to one Senate aide, who was not 
authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke only on condition of 
anonymity. By contrast, the House Select Committee on Benghazi employed more 
than 50 congressional staffers.

   The aide said the committee has gained access to additional materials at 
intelligence agencies, including categories and types of intelligence documents 
that have never been provided to Congress before.

   Committee members and staff are reviewing thousands of pages of materials at 
CIA headquarters and the National Security Agency.


(KA)

 
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