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
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
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
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.