WASHINGTON — President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn violated the law by failing to disclose payments from Russia in documents he submitted to renew his security clearance, according to top members of the House Oversight Committee.
There’s also no record that the former Army lieutenant general sought permission for a 2015 trip to Moscow, when he dined with President Vladimir Putin.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the committee. “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate and there are repercussions for the violation of law.”
Flynn stepped down as Trump’s national security adviser for lying about his contacts with Russia.
Lying on national security documents is a crime, and punishable by five years in behind bars, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), said at a joint press conference with Chaffetz.
The comments came after the two lawmakers reviewed classified documents provided by the Pentagon on Flynn’s national security clearance application in 2016.
“They are extremely troubling,” Cummings (D-Md.) said after emerging from a briefing at the Capitol.
Cummings also accused the White House of stonewalling the work of the committee by failing to provide information on Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals.
“The White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan requests,” Cummings said in releasing the White House’s denial letter.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accused the committee of making an “outlandish” request for Flynn’s phone calls and contacts.
Spicer also drew a line between Flynn’s work for Trump during the transition and in the White House, and said it would be “ridiculous” for the Trump White House to turn over information before Flynn was officially sworn in.
“To ask for every call or contact that a national security adviser made is pretty outlandish,” Spicer said.
“We started this administration on Jan. 20. All the information they are talking about occurred prior to him being at the White House. …To ask the White House to produce documents that were not in the possession of the White House is ridiculous.”
Asked if Flynn broke the law, Spicer said: “I don’t know.”
Flynn’s contacts with Russia will be part of a public hearing May 8 before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is to testify on her warnings to the White House about Flynn’s Russian connections.
Meanwhile, investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election continue in the House and Senate intelligence committees.
Robert Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, insisted his client was in contact with the Defense Intelligence Agency about foreign payments from the state-owned Russian television network RT.
“General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of DoD, 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,” Kelner said in a statement.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer warned the Flynn developments may be just the beginning.
“The disturbing news that General Flynn may have violated the law in connection with his security clearance may be just the tip of the iceberg,” Schumer (D-NY) said.
“These revelations highlight the importance of the intelligence committee working in a bipartisan way to request and receive documents with respect to any financial arrangements.”
Credit: NY Post