Politics

Chaffetz and Cummings: Flynn Might Have Illegally Accepted Payments from Russia

Oversight Committee could use subpoena power to compel White House to comply with investigation

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, right, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings, D-Md., discuss their review of documents related to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the Capitol on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The top Republican and Democrat on the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday that there is no evidence former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn complied with the law when he received payments from the Russian government in 2015.

 

“I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz.

 

In an unusual note of accord, Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said classified military documents show that Flynn did not ask for permission to receive the payments for a trip to Russia, during which he dined with President Vladimir Putin. Flynn also failed to report those payments on documents he submitted to the Pentagon to renew his security clearance a month after his trip.

 

“It was inappropriate and there are repercussions for the violation of law,” Chaffetz said.

 

Flynn resigned in February after it was revealed that he had mislead Vice President Michael Pence and other White House officials about conversations he had had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

 

Further questions were raised in March, when Flynn belatedly registered with the U.S. government for work he did on behalf of the Turkish government during the previous year's presidential campaign.

 

American citizens who lobby for foreign governments are required by law to register as foreign agents.

 

The Oversight Committee investigation is one of several on Capitol Hill looking into ties between foreign governments and the Donald Trump administration.

 

Chaffetz and Cummings also said the documents raise questions about whether Flynn violated a constitutional ban on foreign payments to retired military officers. They said Flynn could be criminally prosecuted, and he should surrender the money he made.

 

"This is a major problem," Cummings said. He noted that the security clearance forms state that applicants must answer all questions, "completely and truthfully," and that "knowingly concealing or falsifying," information is a felony.

 

Cummings said he wants to call Flynn to testify before the committee.

 

"We need to have the opportunity to ask him directly why he concealed these foreign payments from the Defense Department," he said.

 The White House has refused to comply with a request from Chaffetz’s and Cummings’ committee to provide documents related to its investigation of Flynn.

 

The Committee met Tuesday to review documents from the Pentagon.

 

Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., told CNN after that meeting that the committee might use subpoena power to force the White House to comply with its request.

“We need to get to the facts,” he said. “What I saw this morning, in terms of classified material, was very disturbing, and it further raises the issue that we need an independent investigation ASAP.”

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