Flynn may have broken law, say Oversight leaders

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law by taking money from Russia and Turkey without permission, the top lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday.

“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (R-Utah) told reporters Tuesday. “It appears as if he did take that money, it was inappropriate — and there are repercussions for the violation of law.”

Chaffetz and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said they had reviewed documents supplied by the Defense Department that suggested Flynn broke the law. 

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Flynn had also declined to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in payments from both countries in his original financial disclosure forms submitted in February.

Flynn filed an amended disclosure last month reporting payments for speeches from three Russian-linked companies, including the state-backed network RT, but the move has remained under scrutiny amid the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election.

In March, the committee sent a letter to the White House, the Defense Department and several other administration heads demanding a range of records related to the payments Flynn, who also worked on Trump’s campaign and presidential transition, received.

Chaffetz and Cummings on Tuesday morning reviewed a batch of documents responsive to the request from the Pentagon, behind closed doors.

The White House has refused to comply with the request.

According to Cummings, Flynn applied to renew his security clearance — using a form called a SF-86 — in January of 2016, just month after he traveled to Moscow to give a paid speech. During a dinner at that appearance, he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There is “no evidence in the documents that he reported funds he received for his trip” and “no evidence he sought permission to obtain these funds from a foreign source,” Cummings said Tuesday, noting that knowingly falsifying or concealing a material fact in an SF-86 is a felony.

“Personally, I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law,” Chaffetz said.

Flynn was forced to resign in February after it came to light that he had misled Vice President Pence and the public about the content of a phone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

The former intelligence official has offered to testify before the Senate and House Intelligence committees — which are both investigating Russian interference in the election — in exchange for immunity, but neither committee has accepted the offer.

Chaffetz said Tuesday that Flynn could potentially be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in remittance to the U.S. government.

But the authority to levy that penalty would rest with the Defense Department — not with the committee.

Although Cummings said that he would like to see Flynn appear before the committee, such a hearing appears unlikely. Chaffetz argued that the “lead” in any Russia-related investigations is the Intelligence Committee. Oversight, he said, is in “more of a support role.”

“I highly doubt” the committee will call Flynn to testify, he said.