A top Democratic senator said Thursday that there’s “powerful”
evidence that President Donald Trump’s former national security
adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, “broke significant
criminal laws” when he accepted foreign payments.
A letter the Defense Intelligence Agency wrote to the House
Oversight Committee earlier this month revealed that
Flynn did not seek or gain permission to accept money
from Russia’s state-owned news agency, Russia Today (RT), for a
speech he gave in Moscow in 2015. The revelations were announced
in a press conference Thursday.
“The evidence that Rep. Cummings just outlined is powerful,
mounting, incontrovertible evidence that there has been a
violation of criminal law,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal said at the
press conference, referring to Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking
member on the House Oversight Committee.
“This evidence is powerful in showing that Gen. Flynn broke
significant criminal laws,” Blumenthal said. “The DIA letter, the
DOD letter, the inspector general letter, all testify to a
flagrant violation of federal criminal statutes that must be
investigated and prosecuted.”
Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Cummings, the top Republican and
Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said in a joint press conference on Tuesday
that Flynn appeared to have broken the law.
The DIA letter saying Flynn did not seek permission from the
agency before accepting the RT payment appears to contradict
a statement Flynn’s lawyer released on Tuesday.
“As has previously been reported, General Flynn briefed the
Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of the Department
of Defense, extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both
before and after the trip,” Robert Kelner, Flynn’s lawyer, said
in the statement.
But Flynn, who headed the DIA between 2012 and 2014, did not
brief the agency on the thousands of dollars he received from RT
to speak at its 10th anniversary gala, according to the DIA.
In failing to disclose the payment, Flynn may have violated the
Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution, which prohibits
retired military personnel from receiving payments from
foreign sources without advance permission.
Blumenthal called for a special prosecutor to investigate Flynn
and others in the Trump administration who might have connections
to foreign governments.
“For all the reasons that Rep. Cummings outlined so powerfully
about the White House seeking, in effect, to cover up for Gen.
Flynn, we can’t count on the attorney general or his deputy, who
report to the president of the United States and the White House,
to do that job,” Blumenthal said. “There needs to be a special
He also called for a special prosecutor to investigate “the
conflicts of interest on the part of President Trump and others
in the White House.”
Flynn was forced to step down from his position in February after
only 24 days amid revelations that he misled Vice President Mike
Pence about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US,
Flynn last month offered to testify before the congressional
intelligence committees in exchange for immunity from prosecution
— a signal to some legal experts that he thought
he may have committed a crime. Neither of the committees have
taken him up on the offer.
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.