House Oversight Committee leaders said today that newly provided classified documents show that President Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, may have broken the law when he failed to seek U.S. government permission or to disclose his acceptance of payments from a media organization considered to be an arm of the Russian government.
Republican chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah and the panel’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland spoke to reporters after reviewing classified documents from the Defense Intelligence Agency in a secure area of the Capitol’s basement.
"As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey, or anybody else, and it appears as if he did take that money," Chaffetz said of Flynn. "It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law," the Republican representative added.
Cummings said someone convicted of such a violation could face a punishment that included "fines and five years imprisonment."
The Oversight Committee has been investigating whether Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, properly disclosed foreign payments he received for work overseas, including a speech in late 2015 to Russia’s state-owned TV network Russia Today for which he which he received over $33,000.
Flynn directed the federal Defense Intelligence Agency until he was pushed out by the Obama administration, and at the time of the RT speech he continued to hold a top-level security clearance.
A spokesman for Flynn told ABC News at the time that the money from the RT appearance was from his speakers bureau, and that Flynn reported the contacts to the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In March, Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Cummings requested documents from the Pentagon, White House, FBI and Director of National Intelligence regarding Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals and any funds he received from foreign sources.
Trump fired Flynn early in his term as national security adviser for allegedly misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn was paid nearly $60,000 in 2015 by three Russian firms affiliated with the Kremlin, including RT, according to documents released by Democrats on the Oversight Committee.