Pentagon warned Flynn against accepting foreign payments

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by the Pentagon against accepting foreign payments following his retirement in 2014, according to new documents released Thursday by the House Oversight Committee.

The Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) inspector general launched an investigation into Flynn’s actions this month, according to another document released by committee Democrats.

In a 2014 letter to Flynn from the DIA — released in redacted form by the committee — the agency advised him that it is illegal for former military officers to accept payment from a foreign government without prior approval.

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"Accordingly, if you are ever in a position where you would receive an emolument from a foreign government or from an entity that might be controlled by a foreign government, be sure to obtain advance approval from the Army prior to acceptance," Flynn was told. 

The DIA told the committee in an April 7 letter that it did not locate any records that Flynn sought permission to receive money from a foreign source, nor it did it locate any other records related to Flynn’s receipt of money from a foreign source.

The leaders of the committee on Tuesday said Flynn, a former DIA head, might have broken the law by accepting payments from Russia and Turkey and later by misleading the government about them.

In December of 2015, Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at an event hosted in Moscow by the Kremlin-backed network RT, during which he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also received payments for additional speeches to Russian firms Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr.

As a retired military officer, Flynn is prohibited under the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution from accepting payment from a foreign government without advance permission from both the secretary of State and the secretary of the Army.

According to House Oversight Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Flynn did not disclose the RT payment when he applied to renew his security clearance in January 2016, just a month after he traveled to Moscow.

“These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” Cummings said in a statement.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Flynn’s lawyer claimed that he briefed the DIA “extensively” both before and after the 2015 trip.

The Oversight panel is also seeking a wide swath of documents from the White House related to what Flynn reported when he was vetted to become national security adviser.

But the White House is refusing to provide that information, claiming that it does not have the documents in question because they pertain to activities Flynn undertook prior to his service in the administration.

Flynn was forced to step down in February for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about the contents of phone conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.