Chaffetz and Cummings question payments to Trump's ex-national security adviser.
|Michael Flynn, Seen as another Russian asset|
The Pentagon has informed lawmakers that there are no records of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s 2015 trip to Moscow, when he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin and may have accepted unconstitutional payments from a foreign government for his attendance.
In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House oversight committee delivered Tuesday, acting Army Secretary Robert Speer confirmed that Flynn — a retired lieutenant general — filed no documentation of his trip.
In response, House oversight committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the committee, sent a letter that suggests Flynn may have inappropriately accepted payments from the Russian government or its agents in exchange for his attendance. Scrutiny is growing on Flynn’s trip and whether his payment violated the Constitution’s Emolument’s Clause, which prohibits any person holding an “office of profit or trust” in the federal government from accepting foreign payment. The prohibition has long been considered to apply for retired military officials.
The letter is addressed to Leading Authorities, the speaker’s bureau that Flynn has suggested coordinated his payment for the event. Chaffetz and Cummings ask for the company to turn over all documents pertaining to Flynn’s trip to Russia, as well as any sources of payment for his appearance. They also seek any documents about Flynn’s other appearances connected to Russia Today, the Kremlin-aligned news outlet with which he’s had a relationship.
Chaffetz’s decision to join the inquiry — initially made by Cummings on Feb. 1 — comes a day after he called for a probe of intelligence community leaks that have been damaging to the Trump White House.
He's so far resisted pressure from Democrats to investigate reports that Trump associates had routine contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Chaffetz has, however, pursued inquiries into whether Trump is in violation of his lease of the Old Post Office Building, which houses his D.C. hotel, and whether senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway violated ethics laws to hawk Ivanka Trump’s apparel line in a TV appearance from the White House.