New documents released Thursday by the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee appear to show that ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn took money from three Russian companies, including the state-run RT news organization, prior to becoming an adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign.
Flynn, who spoke at RT’s 10th anniversary gala in December 2015, told Yahoo News on July 18, 2016 that he had been paid for his appearance at the event by his speaker’s bureau, Leading Authorities, Inc., and not by the Russian government.
In fact, according to documents provided to the House Oversight Committee and published by the ranking Democrat on that committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), RT paid the entirety of the $33,750 speaking fee to Flynn Intel Group, including additional travel expenses, in addition to a $11,250 commission for LAI, in November 2015. Additional documents show the speaker’s bureau communicating directly, and coordinating payments with, a manager at RT.
A spokesperson for Flynn told the Wall Street Journal that he had notified the Defense Intelligence Agency of his RT appearance.
Cummings’ documents also showed one $11,250 payment each to Flynn from Volga-Dnepr Airlines and Kaspersky Government Security Solutions, Inc. in July 2015.
Following the release of the documents, top Democrats on the House Oversight, Armed Services, Judiciary, Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Foreign Affairs Committees called for an investigation of Flynn’s compliance with the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
Retired military officers, they noted, are required to comply with the clause, which prohibits any person “holding an Office of Profit or Trust” from accepting without Congressional approval “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title” from a foreign leader or government. The letter also mentioned Flynn’s recent declaration that he may have acted as a foreign agent, due to his employment by a Turkish-owned Dutch Company. Flynn said in his declaration that the work “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”
The letter noted that a 2012 analysis from the CIA’s Open Source Center said that RT was “created and financed by the Russian Government.”
It said Volga-Dnepr was suspended as an approved United Nations vendor following “alleged inappropriate relationships” with a Russian official indicted for steering contracts in exchange for bribes. It quoted a Bloomberg Businessweek report that said Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of Kaspersky Government Security Solutions, “was educated at a KGB-sponsored cryptography institute, then worked for military intelligence.”
Its parent company, Kaspersky Lab, is the “top Russian cybersecurity company,” and “the foremost researched uncovering Western government spyware for the past several years,” according to the committee, quoting a Reuters report.
Read House Democrats’ letter below: