Pentagon Inspector General Launches Investigation Of Michael Flynn

Moments ago, AP reported that Trump's embattled former national security advisor Michael Flynn had been warned not to accept foreign government payments in 2014.

As CNN details, former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 against accepting foreign payments as he entered retirement. 

"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," said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, in a statement. "Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation. I thank the Department of Defense for providing us with unclassified versions of these documents."

This follows a report from earlier this week according to which the House overnight Committe said there was no evidence Flynn properly disclosed payments for his foreign lobbying connected to Turkey and Russia, and noted that Flynn likely broke the law on overseas payments.

As The Washington Post reported, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said they believe Flynn neither received permission nor fully disclosed income he earned for a speaking engagement in Russia and lobbying activities on behalf of Turkey when he applied to reinstate his security clearance, after viewing two classified memos and Flynn's disclosure form in a private briefing Tuesday morning. "Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law," Chaffetz told reporters following the briefing. "He was supposed to get permission, he was supposed to report it, and he didn't," Cummings said.

Chaffetz confirmed that Flynn had failed to reveal the more than $45,000 he was paid to speak at a 2015 gala for RT, the Kremlin-run TV network, as well as the money he was paid by an air freight company and a cybersecurity firm with direct connections to Russia. Chaffetz added that the White House had refused to provide his committee with information and documents related to Flynn's security clearance and payments from organizations tied to the Russian and Turkish governments. The committee made six requests, and the White House cited reasons it could not comply with each of them, Cummings said.

Flynn's life got even more complicated when Cummings also revealed that the inspector general of the Department of Defense opened an investigation of Flynn earlier this month, according to an April 11 letter released by the oversight committee Thursday.

Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, had previously said that Flynn briefed the DIA on his speech to RT and the payments, but Cummings said Thursday that another document that was declassified this week shows no evidence to support that statement. CNN has reached out to Flynn's attorney Thursday and have yet to receive a response.

As Cummings said,"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. Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation. I thank the Department of Defense for providing us with unclassified versions of these documents."

This is the full statement Cummins released this morning:

Cummings Releases Three New Docs on Flynn

Pentagon Explicitly Warned Flynn Not to Accept Foreign Government Payments; Newly Unclassified Letter Confirms Flynn Did Not Report Foreign Payments; Defense Department IG Launches Its Own Investigation

Washington, D.C. (Apr. 27, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released new documents relating to Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was fired by President Trump from his position as National Security Advisor after concealing information about his communications with the Russian Ambassador to the United States.

“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,” said Ranking Member Cummings. “Our next step is to get the documents we are seeking from the White House so we can complete our investigation.  I thank the Department of Defense for providing us with unclassified versions of these documents.”

First, the Oversight Committee has obtained a letter to Flynn on October 8, 2014, from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Office of General Counsel explicitly warning Flynn, as he entered retirement, that he was prohibited by the Constitution from receiving payments from foreign sources without advance permission:

“Foreign Compensation Requires Advance Approval

The Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, article I, section 9, clause 8, as interpreted in Comptroller General opinions and by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, prohibits receipt of consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoraria, or salary by all retired military personnel, officer and enlisted, regular and reserve, from a foreign government unless congressional consent is first obtained.  Consent is provided by Congress under 37 U.S.C. 908, which requires advance approval from the relevant service secretary and the Secretary of State before accepting employment, consulting fees, gifts, travel expenses, honoraria, or salary from a foreign government. ... 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.” (emphasis in original)

In addition, this week, the Defense Department produced to the Oversight Committee an unclassified, redacted version of a letter that DIA originally sent to the Committee in classified form on April 7, 2017.

The new DIA letter counters the suggestion by Flynn’s attorney on Tuesday that Flynn followed appropriate procedures for accepting foreign funds for his trip to Moscow in December 2015 when he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  The DIA letter states:

“DIA did not locate any records referring or relating to LTG Flynn’s receipt of money from a foreign source. ... DIA did not locate any records of LTG Flynn seeking permission or approval for the receipt of money from a foreign source.”

Flynn’s attorney issued the following statement on Tuesday:

“As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of the Department of Defense, 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.”
In other words, regardless of whether Flynn discussed his trip to Moscow with DIA, the Committee has obtained no evidence that he disclosed the payments he received from the Kremlin-backed propaganda outlet RT or that he obtained permission from the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of State, as required.

The new DIA letter also confirms that the Pentagon warned Flynn explicitly when he retired in 2014 not to accept payments from foreign government sources without obtaining advance approval:

“LTG Flynn was advised of the legal restrictions concerning foreign compensation and instructed to report any potential receipt of compensation in advance.”

In another development, on April 11, 2017, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense sent a letter informing the Oversight Committee that it has now launched its own investigation:

“This office has initiated an investigation to determine whether Lieutenant General (LTG) Flynn, U.S. Army (Retired) failed to obtain required approval prior to receiving any emolument from a foreign government.”

The White House is still refusing to provide even a single document as part of the Committee’s investigation and has refused to comply with the bipartisan document request sent by Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings on March 22, 2017.