During a press conference on Tuesday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings accused former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn of committing a felony by failing to disclose payments that he received from Russia. After reviewing classified materials and meeting with officials from the Defense Department and State Department, Reps. Chaffetz and Cummings announced that Flynn could face up to five years in prison and ordered to repay the money he received from Russia, Turkey, and any other countries.
“General Flynn had a duty and an obligation to seek and obtain permission to receive money from foreign governments prior to any engagement with them,” Chaffetz stated at the press conference. “It does not appear to us that that was ever sought nor did he ever get that permission.”
In January 2016, Gen. Flynn filled out an application to renew his security clearance but failed to disclose payments received by Russia. The previous month, Flynn was paid more than $45,000 to speak at the 10th anniversary of Russia Today. During that event, Flynn was seen in a photo sitting at a table with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.
“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey, or anybody else,” Chaffetz continued. “And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”
In March, Flynn admitted to receiving more than $500,000 last year while working as a foreign agent representing the interests of the Turkish government. Flynn was forced to resign as National Security Advisor after falsely informing Vice President Mike Pence that he did not meet with the Russian ambassador.
“As part of our investigation, Chairman Chaffetz and I sent a bipartisan request to Mr. Priebus, the White House Chief of Staff, requesting a wide range of documents including any and I quote ‘referring or relating to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals,’” Cummings stated. “Despite all of these very troubling developments, last Wednesday on April 19, we received a response from the White House refusing to provide any of the documents we requested.
“So we received no internal documents relating to what Gen. Flynn reported to the White House when they vetted him to become National Security Advisor. And we received no documents relating to his termination as National Security Advisor for concealing his discussion with the Russian ambassador. In short, the White House has refused to provide this committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan requests. And that simply is unacceptable.”
Unable to obtain any evidence suggesting Flynn had disclosed payments from foreign countries prior to renewing his security clearance, Chaffetz and Cummings agreed that the former National Security Advisor could potentially face up to five years in prison for committing a felony. If convicted, Flynn would also likely be ordered to repay the money.
“He was supposed to seek permission and receive permission from both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Army prior to traveling to Russia to not only accept that payment but to engage in that activity,” Chaffetz said. “I see no evidence that he actually did that.”
In conclusion, Chaffetz and Cummings announced they are sending a joint letter to the U.S. Army Comptroller and Defense Department Inspector General in order to continue the investigation into Flynn’s activities and potential criminal prosecution. According to CNN, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner failed to disclose his foreign contacts to the FBI when applying for security clearance.