Flynn was warned not to accept foreign government payments

Flynn was warned not to accept foreign government payments

The Pentagon's inspector general has launched an investigation into whether Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, took money from foreign entities without needed approval, according to a letter released by House Democrats on Thursday.

The Pentagon has in the past advised retiring officers that because they can be recalled to military service, they are subject to the Constitution's rarely enforced emoluments clause, which prohibits top officials from receiving payments or favors from foreign governments.

However, Cummings said in Thursday's statement, "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".

Flynn's security clearance at the time, though, would have been granted by career civil servants, not political appointees in the Obama administration.

The letter says one reason is that "many, if not all, documents relating to" Flynn's contacts with foreign nationals after January 20, 2017 "are likely to contain classified and/or confidential information".

One of the letters Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, released was a letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency stating that they found no record that Flynn had sought permission to speak in Russian Federation, nor had he reported income from that speech.

But new documents reveal that Flynn might not have followed Pentagon protocol because he did not request permission before accepting payment from a foreign government.

Flynn's firm filed as a foreign agent last month with the Justice Department for its consulting work and acknowledged that it may have benefited the government of Turkey. "We informed them this morning that we would be releasing these documents today". "The White House needs to stop making excuses to protect General Flynn".

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Reports allege that Flynn took payments amounting to more than $45,000 for delivering a speech to RT-TV in Russian Federation.

Earlier this week Cummings, joined by Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, said Flynn may have violated the law by not disclosing the payments.

On Thursday, Mr Chaffetz, chairman of the oversight committee, said that Mr Flynn "had an obligation to seek approval to take money from a foreign government ... we found no evidence that he did that". His resignation came amidst investigations by the FBI and Congress into possible relations between Russian officials and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election and transition period.

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

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that on April 4 the Defense Department's Inspector General began an investigation into Flynn's alleged violations of the Emoluments Clause. "The White House has refused to offer a single piece of paper in response to this committee's bipartisan request".

Trump appeared to be doubling down on a talking point about Flynn's controversies that was first articulated on Thursday by White House press secretary Sean Spicer. "It does not make any sense, and it makes the American people think the White House has something to hide".

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

"They were vetting him for the national security advisor position, so the blame is clearly on the administration that was trying to put him in that position", Lynch said.