Saturday 20 January 2018

Former Trump security adviser 'warned about foreign payments'

Mr Flynn earned tens of thousands of dollars from Russian and Turkish sources (AP)
Mr Flynn earned tens of thousands of dollars from Russian and Turkish sources (AP)

US president Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was warned by authorities when he retired from the military in 2014 not to take foreign government-sourced money without "advance approval" from the Pentagon, documents show.

The paperwork released by the ranking Democrat on a House oversight committee revealed that Mr Flynn, a former US Army lieutenant general and Defence Intelligence Agency chief, was later paid tens of thousands of dollars for his work on behalf of foreign interests.

These included Russia's state-sponsored RT television network and a Turkish-owned company linked to the government in Ankara.

Representative Elijah Cummings also said the Pentagon's acting inspector general has launched an inquiry into whether those payments qualify as coming from foreign governments and whether Mr Flynn properly informed military authorities about them.

Both Mr Cummings and Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, have previously said they planned to ask the Army to rule on whether Mr Flynn properly informed them about and asked permission for the payments from Russian and Turkish entities.

A key document released by Mr Cummings showed that Mr Flynn was warned by a Defence Intelligence Agency official in October 2014 that he would need clearance from the agency before he could accept any earnings linked to foreign governments.

Mr Flynn was explicitly told in the document that the US Constitution's emoluments provision prohibits any monetary payments or gifts "from a foreign government unless congressional consent is first obtained".

The letter explained such "advance approval" would need to come "from the relevant service secretary".

The committee's leaders reported earlier this week that they found no evidence that Mr Flynn asked for permission for the payments he received or informed the military that he had accepted them.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia O Smith said "we have found no records of LTG(R) Flynn requesting permission from the Army for foreign employment".

Mr Chaffetz said Mr Flynn "had an obligation to seek approval to take money from a foreign government. We found no evidence that he did that".

However, the Republican did not join Mr Cummings at the Thursday news conference, unlike their bipartisan appearance earlier in the week announcing the results of the committee's inquiry into Mr Flynn's dealings with authorities before and after his foreign earnings.

The committee's inquiry is one of several congressional investigations into Mr Flynn's contacts with foreign officials before and during his brief stint as Mr Trump's top national security aide.

Mr Trump fired Mr Flynn for failing to inform senior administration officials about his contacts with Russian officials - contacts which are being examined as part of the wider inquiries into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Mr 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."

The White House told the committee recently that documents the representatives sought concerning Mr Flynn's security clearance would not be turned over because they contained classified information.

Press Association

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