Flynn un­der fire as IG opens pay­ments probe

White House cites Obama-era se­cu­rity clear­ance

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY DAN BOY­LAN AND DAVE BOYER

The De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency ex­plic­itly warned Michael Flynn, Pres­i­dent Trump’s first na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, about ac­cept­ing for­eign pay­ments with­out clear­ance when he re­tired in 2014, ac­cord­ing to new doc­u­ments re­leased Thurs­day by a bi­par­ti­san con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Mr. Flynn’s for­eign pay­ments and com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rus­sian con­tacts.

In Fe­bru­ary the re­tired gen­eral re­signed af­ter just weeks on the job as Mr. Trump’s top se­cu­rity aide fol­low­ing re­ports he mis­led Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and other of­fi­cials about his deal­ings with Rus­sia dur­ing the tran­si­tion from the Obama to Trump ad­min­is­tra­tions — par­tic­u­larly about dis­cus­sions with Am­bas­sador Sergey Kislyak.

The DIA’s exit warn­ing to Mr. Flynn was “bold, ital­i­cized and could not have been clearer,” Mary­land Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings, the top Demo­crat on the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee, told re­porters in a Capi­tol Hill brief­ing.

The brief­ing came as it emerged the of­fice of the De­fense De­part­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral was launch­ing its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into why Mr. Flynn failed to get prior ap­proval be­fore ac­cept­ing pay­ments from for­eign in­ter­ests.

Ear­lier this year, com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­vealed that, in 2015, Mr. Flynn was paid over $65,000 by com­pa­nies linked to Rus­sia, in ad­di­tion to $530,000 for work his lob­by­ing firm com­pleted, which pre­sum­ably ben­e­fited Turkey. He would later be­come one of can­di­date Trump’s clos­est ad­vis­ers on for­eign and se­cu­rity pol­icy and briefly the head of the hugely in­flu­en­tial Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

White House press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said Thurs­day that the probe by the De­fense De­part­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral of Mr. Flynn is “ap­pro­pri­ate.”

“If they think there’s wrong­do­ing, then the de­part­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral should look into that,” Mr. Spicer said.

He also de­fended Pres­i­dent Trump’s re­la­tion­ship with his con­tro­ver­sial for­mer aide, say­ing Mr. Flynn had been let go af­ter his de­cep­tions were re­vealed.

“I think the pres­i­dent made the right call at the right time,” Mr. Spicer said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. Cum­mings, the DIA’s Of­fice of Gen­eral Coun­sel sent a let­ter on Oct. 8, 2014, “ex­plic­itly warn­ing Flynn, as he en­tered re­tire­ment, that he was pro­hib­ited by the Con­sti­tu­tion from re­ceiv­ing pay­ments from for­eign sources with­out ad­vance per­mis­sion.”

Two days ago, House Over­sight Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ja­son Chaf­fetz said Mr. Flynn may have bro­ken the law by not fully dis­clos­ing pay­ments he re­ceived from Rus­sian TV sta­tion RT, which re­ceives fund­ing from the Krem­lin.

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

The com­mit­tee’s re­quest for a wide range of doc­u­ments re­lated to Mr. Flynn from the White House was turned down ear­lier this week.

A White House spokesman said the ad­min­is­tra­tion does not have doc­u­ments on Mr. Flynn’s ac­tiv­i­ties prior to Mr. Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, and those they do have from his time in the ad­min­is­tra­tion in­volve sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion.

In a state­ment, Mr. Flynn’s at­tor­ney, Robert Kel­ner, de­clared anew on Thurs­day that his client briefed DIA of­fi­cials be­fore and af­ter on his ac­tiv­i­ties, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

He pointed to a let­ter, re­leased in redacted form by Mr. Cum­mings, not­ing that Mr. Flynn pro­vided a thumb drive to the agency con­tain­ing doc­u­ments de­tail­ing the RT event.

The De­fense De­part­ment, Mr. Kel­ner con­tended, “was fully aware of the trip.” How­ever, Mr. Cum­mings said Thurs­day that ad­di­tional de­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments viewed by the over­sight com­mit­tee had re­vealed no ev­i­dence to sup­port that state­ment.

Mr. Spicer said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion bore part of the blame for the con­tro­versy, be­cause it had re­newed Mr. Flynn’s se­cu­rity clear­ance even though it was aware of the RT pay­ments.

He said he wasn’t ac­cus­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of wrong­do­ing, but added, “I’m just mak­ing sure peo­ple un­der­stand the process and how it works.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings (left), rank­ing mem­ber of the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee, said for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Michael Flynn was warned by the DIA not to ac­cept for­eign pay­ments with­out clear­ance when Mr. Flynn re­tired from the mil­i­tary.

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