House Oversight Committee: Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn failed to disclose payments from Russia
Lieutenant Gen. Michael Flynn, who served as President Donald Trump’s first National Security Advisor, may have broken the law by failing to disclose funds he received from the Russian government, according to the House Oversight Committee.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia,” said Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”
Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) held a press conference yesterday following a classified briefing with the Defense Intelligence Agency on Flynn’s ties to the Russian government.
(Flynn served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014.)
Documents reviewed during the briefing appeared to show that Flynn received funds from the Russian government tied to Flynn’s visit to Moscow in December 2015 when he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
A month after his Moscow visit, Flynn applied to renew his government security clearance – known as SF 86 – that required disclosure of payments from foreign sources that could present conflicts of interests.
“There is no evidence…anywhere in these documents that reported the funds he received for this trip. There’s also no evidence that he sought permission to obtain these funds from a foreign source,” said Cummings. “This is a major problem.”
Cummings pointed out that all questions on SF 86 “must be answered completely and truthfully” and that “knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact is a felony” punishable by up to five years in prison as well as fines.
And both Chaffetz and Cummings said that Flynn may have violated the law requiring former military officers to obtain permission from the Department of Defense and the Department of State prior to engaging with or receiving money from a foreign government.
“I just wanted to know what his exposure is,” said Cummings.
Cummings also criticized the White House for refusing to provide documents requested by the Oversight Committee “relating to what Gen. Flynn reported to the White House when they vetted him to become National Security Advisor” or to Flynn’s termination “for concealing his discussion with the Russian ambassador”.
“In short, the White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan request, and that’s simply unacceptable,” said Cummings.
Flynn served as a close and influential adviser to the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, and he even spoke at the Republican Convention where he infamously led a chant of “lock her up” directed at former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server.
Just nine days after winning the election, Trump appointed Flynn as his National Security Advisor, praising Flynn as “one of the country’s foremost experts on military and intelligence matters and he will be an invaluable asset to me and my administration”.
However, Flynn was forced to resign as the National Security Advisor in mid-February after just serving three weeks after the Washington Post reported on Flynn’s improper contacts with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration. Flynn falsely denied to Vice President Mike Pence that he had discussions with Kislyak about lifting the sanctions that former President Barack Obama imposed on Russia for hacking and meddling in the 2016 election.
In his resignation letter, Flynn thanked Trump for his “personal loyalty”, which was demonstrated three days later when Trump defended Flynn at a press conference, saying “What he did wasn’t wrong” referring to Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak.
Flynn was not the only Trump administration or campaign official to have ties to Russia that could create potential conflicts of interests in U.S. foreign policy.
Shortly after Flynn resigned, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Justice Department investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sessions also failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak while serving as a top adviser to the Trump campaign.
Several other former Trump campaign officials, including Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone, are being investigated for their ties with Russia.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Intelligence community released a report concluding that Putin and the Russian government ordered hackings that helped Trump’s “chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him”. The Democratic National Committee’s server and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails were hacked during the 2016 campaign.
Letter from White House to Chaffetz & Cummings April 19, 2017 – Part 1http://www.whatthefolly.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/C-RGPcLXoAEG-yh.jpeg