Jason Chaffetz: Michael Flynn May Have Broken Federal Law with Moscow Speech
Michael Flynn, the ousted former national security adviser, appears to have violated federal law by accepting money during a trip to Moscow in 2015, according to top lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee. In a press conference after a review of classified documents related to Flynn’s brief stint as the head of the NSA, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the committee, said that Flynn’s failure to disclose the payment could be a prosecutable offense.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” Chaffetz said, referring to Flynn’s consulting firm’s undisclosed work with a company tied to the Turkish government. “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for a violation of law.” Chaffetz, who delivered remarks on Tuesday with his colleague, Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, added: “There was nothing in the data to show that Gen. Flynn complied with the law.”
According to Chaffetz, Flynn failed to disclose the payments when he was seeking a security clearance for his appointment as national security adviser. Moscow reportedly paid Flynn tens of thousands of dollars to make a speech in the capital in 2015, at an event organized by the state-owned Russia Today, or RT. White House officials on Tuesday said they would not turn over documents pertaining to Flynn’s foreign contacts while he served in the administration.
Flynn was pressured to resign from his post in mid-February, less than a month after being sworn in. After reports leaked that Flynn misled administration officials–including Vice President Mike Pence–about the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, a public maelstrom ensued. Last month, Flynn offered to testify in the House and Senate investigations into President Donald Trump’s and his campaign advisers’ communications with Russia in exchange for immunity. His offer immediately raised a question: what did he seek immunity from? The latest revelations might offer a clue.
Following Chaffetz’s remarks on Tuesday afternoon, Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, released a statement, denying any wrongdoing on Flynn’s part: “As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of (the Defense Department), 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.”
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is probing the Trump-Russia ties, announced it would hold a hearing on May 8. Testifying at the hearing will be former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who initially told the White House about Flynn’s misleading statements to Pence, and former director of national intelligence James Clapper.