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GOP Watchdog: Mike Flynn Likely Broke Law Over Russian Payments

GOP Watchdog: Mike Flynn Likely Broke Law Over Russian Payments

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn likely violated the law when he failed to disclose that he had received payments from Russia, two top lawmakers said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R.-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Elijah Cummings (D.-Md.), the ranking member, said that they had reviewed an application submitted by the retired general in January 2016 to renew his security clearance — and found that Flynn had failed to describe a recent trip to Moscow paid for by Kremlin broadcaster RT.

“As a former military officer you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey, or anybody else,” Chaffetz said. “It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law.”

Chaffetz’s statement represents the latest headache for the White House, which keeps trying to move beyond persistent questions about President Donald Trump and his associates’ ties to Russia. And coming as it does from the Republican chairman, the latest broadside against the disgraced former national security advisor will be harder for the White House to bat away as a partisan attack.

During the Obama years, Chaffetz emerged as one of the administration’s fiercest critics and used his perch atop the oversight panel to pursue a variety of politically-charged investigations, including the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.  

Chaffetz and Cummings said that they had discovered no evidence to indicate that Flynn sought permission for his Moscow trip from the correct authorities. According to Chaffetz, Flynn needed the permission of the secretary of state and the secretary of the army to travel to Russia and be paid for work there. Flynn has claimed he informed the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he led until his firing in 2014, prior to traveling to Russia.

Amid two congressional investigations and a sprawling FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, Chaffetz and Cummings had asked the White House to hand over any documents that shed light on Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals. On Tuesday, Cummings revealed that the White House had denied the request last week.

Flynn was forced to step down less a month into the job, after it was revealed that he had lied to administration officials about conversations he held with the Russian ambassador to the United States. After he left the White House, he retroactively registered as a lobbyist for Turkey, work he was getting paid for while advising Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images