A top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee has learned that President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was paid more than $33,750 by Russia’s state-run broadcaster RT TV-Russia for a speech in Moscow in December 2015. Flynn was forced to resign as Trump’s national security adviser after reports emerged that he had mischaracterized his communications with the Russian ambassador to the US to Vice President Mike Pence. Last week, Flynn registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department, acknowledging that the work he did on behalf of a Turkish-owned company during the transition may have benefited the Turkish government.
According to CNN, the US intelligence community has long assessed RT to be a propaganda tool of the Kremlin, writing in its January report on Russian interference in the US election that the organization had participated in disinformation campaigns aimed at the US. Earlier, Flynn had acknowledged of his speaking engagement and told multiple news outlets in July and August that he received money for the speech, however, he declined to state the amount, saying that the source of the funds was his US speakers bureau, not the Russian broadcaster. The ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings, sent a letter ON Thursday questioning if Flynn had reported the payment as required by both law and military regulations, and also, receiving money from a foreign government without approval from his relevant branch of service violates military regulations. Documents obtained by the oversight committee and shared with CNN show that RT, formerly known as Russia Today, specifically earmarked Flynn’s compensation as part of the payment package to the speakers bureau, which also included the bureau’s fee and visa expenses.
The House Oversight Committee also acquired an email dated November 13, 2015, from an official of RT TV-Russia stating, “We will be covering the payment of General Flynn’s fee from our London office.” According to the documents, Flynn also received $11,250 from a Russian charter cargo airline and $11,250 from a Russia-based cybersecurity corporation, though neither of those companies were state-owned. In the letter, Cummings accused Flynn of violating the emoluments clause as it pertains to military regulations that prohibit retired military officers from receiving payments from a foreign government. According to regulations, Flynn would have had to have sought approval from the Army to receive such payment, something the Army has no record of.