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Michael Flynn may have lied to officials about his Russia ties, congressman says

Elijah Cummings of the House oversight committee claimed the former national security adviser appeared to lie to Obama-era investigators about his foreign ties

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn appears to have lied about his foreign ties to Barack Obama-era investigators who were weighing whether to renew his security clearances, according to a letter published by Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House oversight committee.

The accusation of a stark new violation of law by the man Donald Trump allegedly called a good guy comes on the heels of allegations that he had failed to disclose ties to foreign governments as he joined the Trump administration.

Neither Flynn nor his lawyers had immediate comment on the latest charges.

On the same day, a Washington Post report citing unnamed officials said that Trump in March asked the heads of two powerful intelligence agencies to push back against the revelation that the FBI had an open investigation of alleged ties between Russia and Trumps presidential campaign.

Both officials director of national intelligence Dan Coats and Adm Mike Rogers of the National Security Agency declined the presidents request as inappropriate, the Post reported.

The White House does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals, a White House spokesman said.

But the behavior by the Trump White House would have fit a pattern. Chief of staff Reince Priebus was in touch with FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe in February on the topic of the Russians and the Trump campaign, the White House acknowledged.

We didnt try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth, press secretary Sean Spicer said at the time.

Cummings letter was released hours after Flynn, through his lawyers, defied a separate congressional committee, refusing to comply with a Senate intelligence committee subpoena for documents relating to his foreign activities. Flynn is a person of interest in multiple investigations of alleged Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election, including a special counsel investigation.

Flynn is accused of doing paid work for entities with ties to the Russian and Turkish governments and then not disclosing that work even as he continued to work on the Trump campaign and then to serve, briefly, as Trumps national security adviser.

Trump fired Flynn after it was revealed that Flynn had conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that Flynn had apparently hidden from vice-president Michael Pence and others in the administration.

He is the target on nearly a daily basis of outrageous allegations, his lawyers said Monday.

The latest Flynn bombshell exploded as Trump completed the third day of a nine-day foreign tour meant to highlight his credentials as a global leader and underscore his administrations diplomacy chops.

The White House did not immediately comment on Cummings accusation against Flynn. Trump has insisted on Flynns probity, blaming the media and leaks for his falling out with the administration.

Though
Though there was no indication that the Cummings letter was tied to Flynns refusal to turn documents over to the senate committee, the timing was potentially significant. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

Despite Trumps support, however, the zone of safe terrain for Flynn appeared to be quickly eroding. The general was rendered sufficiently politically vulnerable Monday that Chris Christie, the deeply unpopular governor of New Jersey, himself marked by scandal and a star-crossed relationship with Trump, saw fit to weigh in.

If I were president-elect of the United States, I wouldnt let General Flynn into the White House, let alone give him a job, Christie told reporters.

Cummings announced in his letter, which was addressed to committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, that the oversight committee has in our possession documents that appear to indicate that General Flynn lied to investigators who interviewed him in 2016 as part of his security clearance renewal.

Specifically, the committee has obtained a report of investigation dated March 14, 2016, showing that general Flynn told security clearance investigators that he was paid by US companies when he traveled to Moscow in December 2015 to dine at a gala with Russian president Vladimir Putin, the letter continued. The actual source of the funds for general Flynns trip was not a US company, but the Russian media propaganda arm, RT.

Flynn applied for a five-year clearance reinvestigation about a month after the Moscow trip, in January 2016, the letter continues. He was interviewed in February. It was in that interview, the Democrats assert, that Flynn appears to have misled investigators as to the source of his livelihood.

Though there was no indication that the Cummings letter was tied to Flynns refusal to turn documents over to the senate committee, the timing was potentially significant.

In a letter to the Senate intelligence committee dated Monday, the Associated Press reported, Flynns attorneys justified their decision not to cooperate with the subpoena by citing an escalating public frenzy against him and saying the Justice Departments recent appointment of a special counsel has created a legally dangerous environment for him to cooperate with the panels investigation.

The context in which the committee has called for General Flynns testimonial production of documents makes clear that he has more than a reasonable apprehension that any testimony he provides could be used against him, the attorneys wrote in the letter.

Two other Trump associates figuring in the Russian inquiries, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and sometimes-adviser Roger Stone, were said to have cooperated with subpoenas from the senate committee.

In late April, Cumings and Chaffetz said that Flynn likely violated the law when he failed to disclose payments he had received from Russia and Turkey.

The oversight committee leaders said it appeared Flynn had not received permission for or properly reported the funds he received from a 2015 speech in Russia and lobbying work his firm did for Turkey.

As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else, Chaffetz said at the time. And it appears as if he did take that money, it was inappropriate and there are repercussions for a violation of law.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/22/michael-flynn-russia-investigation-trump-congress

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