Ex-Trump adviser Flynn did not report Russia payments: lawmakers
Washington (AFP) – Former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn never reported receiving payments from Russian entities on his top-level security clearance form, a senior US lawmaker said Monday.
Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz said it appeared Flynn broke the law by failing to disclose the payments from Russia’s RT television on his early 2016 security clearance renewal.
The former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief who was President Donald Trump’s top national security advisor during last year’s election campaign, Flynn was paid more than $33,000 dollars to attend an RT gala in December 2015, where he sat at a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said there was no sign the retired three-star general had the required permissions to attend the gala, nor that he reported the payment on his clearance renewal a month later.
“Personally, I see no information or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz said after a committee briefing on the issue by DIA officials.
“He was supposed to seek permission and receive permission from both the secretary of state and the secretary of the army prior to travelling to Russia to not only accept that payment but to engage in that activity,” Chaffetz told reporters.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the Democratic vice chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the reporting violations may constitute felony crimes that could bring up to five years imprisonment.
Flynn has denied any wrongdoing, amid reports he is under investigation by both the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
His lawyer said in March that he is willing to testify in a US counter-intelligence investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the election to help Trump, in exchange for immunity.
The RT payment came to light amid the sprawling Russian interference investigation. Investigators are especially focusing on the ties several Trump advisors have with Moscow.
Flynn was forced to step down as Trump’s national security advisor less than a month into the job for failing to disclose private conversations he had held with Russia’s US ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December following the election.
After his resignation, he was also shown to have accepted $530,000 to lobby for Turkey during the campaign, without registering as a foreign agent as required by law.
He also accepted $11,250 each from a Russian air transport firm and a Russia-based computer security firm.
Chaffetz said Flynn is now facing possible punishment from the Pentagon, including being forced to give up the payments.
Meanwhile, with concerns mounting that Republicans are stalling the Russia probe, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced that two top former officials — ex-acting attorney general Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James Clapper — will testify on May 8.
Both were deeply involved in the investigation into Russian interference during the second half of last year under former president Barack Obama.