Former U.S. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn received more than $45,000 from RT, the Russian government-backed television network, for his participation at a gala where he sat at President Vladimir Putin's table, according to documents released Thursday by congressional Democrats.
Flynn previously dragged his feet over disclosing his fees for these speaking engagements, sort of like he waited to reveal details on his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and all of that leaked anyway.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., sent a letter on Thursday to President Trump, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and FBI Director James Comey stating that "I can not recall any time in our nation's history when the President selected as his National Security Advisor someone who violated the Constitution by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked our democracy".
Flynn had just left the military at the time at the time of his RT talk.
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Flynn last week filed papers with the government indicating that he acted as a foreign agent on behalf of interest tied to the government of Turkey, getting paid more than $500,000.
He also pointed out that Flynn only in recent weeks officially reported that he had been hired late previous year to lobby for Turkey, for $530,000. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigation into Russian election meddling after it was revealed that he offered misleading testimony about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and Flynn was sacked when it was revealed that the FBI had captured his conversations with Kislyak.
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. That last tidbit was already known, and the Wall Street Journal makes special mention of how Flynn still retained his top-secret level security clearance at the time, which was after he was terminated from his position as Defense Intelligence Agency head.
Cummings questioned whether Flynn violated a provision of the Constitution that would bar him - as a retired military officer - from accepting a payment or "emolument" from a foreign government.
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"I can not recall any time in our nation's history when the President selected as his National Security Advisor someone who violated the Constitution by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked our democracy", Cummings wrote. Cummings was referring to the intelligence agencies' conclusion that Russian Federation instigated cyber-hacking of Democratic party officials and organizations in the months before the presidential election. The department has also noted that the prohibition on accepting foreign gifts includes commercial groups controlled by foreign governments or others "considered instruments of the foreign government".
As for Flynn, in the past he had acknowledged being paid a speakers fee by RT, but had declined to discuss the amount and said it came from his speakers bureau.
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. His speakers bureau, Leading Authorities, took a $11,250 cut. During his Moscow stay, Flynn was interviewed by an RT personality on national security affairs before attending the lavish RT gala with Putin. Volga Dnepr Airlines and the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc. each paid Flynn $11,250 after commission.
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