US

Pentagon Warned Michael Flynn In 2014 Not To Accept Foreign Money

REUTERS/Carlos Barria.

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was warned by the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 to not accept payments from foreign governments without receiving permission, newly released documents show.

The inspector general of the Defense Department has also opened an investigation into the matter, according to a letter released by the House Oversight Committee on Thursday.

The release of the documents follows a press conference earlier this week in which Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the committee, said he had seen “no evidence” that Flynn “complied with the law” regarding foreign payments from Russia and Turkey. (RELATED: Chaffetz Sees No Evidence That Flynn Properly Disclosed Foreign Payments)

Chaffetz declined to say that Flynn broke the law, but did acknowledge on Tuesday that the retired lieutenant general was in “a heap of trouble.”

The Defense Intelligence Agency, from which Flynn retired as director in Aug. 2014, informed him in an Oct. 8, 2014 letter that he had to receive advance permission from the Army  and State Department before accepting payments from foreign governments.

The letter states that the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution “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.”

Of concern for congressional investigators and the Defense Department’s watchdog are payments that Flynn received from RT, the Russia-owned news outlet, and a businessman linked to the Turkish government.

In late-2015, RT paid Flynn $45,000 to appear at a gala in Moscow. Flynn sat at the same table as Russian president Vladimir Putin. Flynn joined the Trump campaign several months later.

And last August, while Flynn was advising Trump, he inked a $600,000 contract with a Turkish businessman with close ties to the Turkish government. Flynn initially registered that work with Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. But last month, acting on the advice of his lawyers, Flynn registered as a foreign agent of Turkey. (RELATED: Michael Flynn Registers As A Foreign Agent Of Turkey)

Democrats on the Oversight Committee also released an April 7 letter in which DIA lawyers say that the agency had no records showing Flynn obtained proper permission to receive the payments.

“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,” the letter states.

The letter also says that Flynn received explicit warning not to accept foreign government payments without permission.

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

In addition to the Oversight Committee, the matter is being investigated by the Defense Department’s internal watchdog.

“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,” an April 11 letter 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 Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the Oversight Committee.

In a statement, Robert Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, said he disagrees with Cummings’ characterization of DIA’s April 7 letter and urged the committee to release a full, unredacted version of it.

“DIA’s letter actually confirms, in a terse section that is partly redacted, that General Flynn provided information and documents on a thumb drive to the Department of Defense concerning the RT speaking event in Moscow, including documents reflecting that he was using a speakers bureau for the event,” Kelner said.

Flynn provided two briefings to the Defense Intelligence Agency — one before and one after the RT event — Kelner says.

“The Department was fully aware of the trip. We urge DIA and the Committee to release the full, unredacted letter, along with the documents that General Flynn provided to DIA during the briefings and details concerning the in-person briefings provided by General Flynn to DIA.”

This article has been updated with a statement from Flynn’s attorney. 

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