Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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Sebastian Gorka’s days at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may be numbered. Three senior Trump administration officials who spoke to the Daily Beast said that discussions are underway on when and how to remove the scandal-plagued national security aide from his post.

Gorka, a deputy assistant to the President, came to the White House from a post as national security editor for Breitbart News and a string of gigs teaching and giving talks on counterterrorism at military universities and small think tanks.

Two officials told the publication that the White House was searching for a new role for him that did not require a security clearance, which BuzzFeed reported he had not obtained as recently as last month.

Given that Gorka is tasked with working on highly sensitive subjects including cybersecurity and counterterrorism, this lack of clearance is unusual and prompts questions about what other agency he could be assigned to. Gorka was also denied a security clearance in Hungary in 2002, multiple sources told TPM in February. This denial kept him off of a governmental panel investigating the then-prime minister, who was found to have worked for the Hungarian secret service during the Soviet era.

U.S. counterterrorism experts told TPM they had little awareness of Gorka’s professional work and derided his hardline views about Islam, inability to speak Arabic, and insistence on being addressed as “Doctor.”

During his tenure in the White House, Gorka has become known for defending Trump’s foreign policy in frequent bombastic Fox News interviews and for his association with a Hungarian knightly order originally founded by a Nazi collaborator.

He has denied belonging to the Order of Vitez, but acknowledged that his late father was a member of an offshoot group that formed after World War II and that he sometimes wore a medal associated with the group in commemoration.

Gorka stormed out of a Georgetown University panel on cybersecurity this week after he was pressed by undergraduate students about his affiliation with the Order of Vitez and his harsh rhetoric about Muslims.

Anonymous officials from both the Obama and Trump administrations have heaped scorn on Gorka in interviews with the press.

A former Obama administration defense official told BuzzFeed this week that Gorka had little influence on policy and “basically sits in the White House canteen drinking coffee between Fox News live hits.”

Another source told the Daily Beast he was a “pain in the ass.”

Despite this stream of negative reports, it’s too early to predict the end for Gorka. When White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was removed from the National Security Council in early April, political observers took it as a sign he’d soon be fired. But both he and Gorka remain in the White House—for now.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has launched a consulting firm offering international clients access to the President, Vice President, and other key members of the administration, Politico reported Friday.

In a document offered to an Eastern European politician by Lewandowski’s Washington East West Political Strategies and obtained by Politico, the firm promises to secure “meetings with well-established figures” and “key members of the U.S. Administration,” including Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Clients, the document reportedly says, will benefit from their “trusted relations with the U.S. Administration.”

Lewandowski’s firm was co-founded with former Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett, an executive at Azerbaijan’s state oil company and a U.S. political consultant who works in Russia, and is focused on getting new political clients in Eastern Europe, according to Politico. Bennett and Lewandowski have established a small cluster of geographically targeted firms, built in coordination with their D.C.-based Avenue Strategies, that leverage their friendly relationship with the White House to secure clients.

Lewandowski did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Bennett told Politico he had not seen the Washington East West Political Strategies document but that their primary focus was policy consulting, not lobbying.

The pair founded Avenue Strategies roughly one month before Inauguration Day. The firm’s D.C. office is located a stone’s throw from the White House, and their biographies heavily advertise their connections to the Trump campaign and administration.

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump marketed himself as an expert negotiator who would draw on his years of cutting deals in the boardroom to deliver the best terms for the American public.

“My Style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward,” Trump said in his 1987 (ghostwritten) bestseller “The Art of the Deal.” “I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”

Almost 100 days into his Oval Office tenure, this high-stakes, take-no-prisoners style has proven to be more of a hindrance than a help for the President—and failed to secure a single legislative victory.

“The Trump folks don’t seem to play well in the sandbox,” Stan Collender, a former top staffer on both the Senate and House Budget Committees, told TPM in a recent interview.

Without “general, generic trust” between the White House and GOP-led Congress, he continued, “you get a situation where Republican lawmakers tend to go off on their own without the administration,” he said. “And this is a White House that doesn’t take kindly to being dissed.”

On critical issues from Obamacare repeal to NAFTA renegotiation, an identifiable pattern has emerged. Trump makes an outlandish ask late in the negotiating process; White House advisers and lawmakers struggling to adjust to this new reality release a wave of contradictory statements on where the administration stands; and, ultimately, the President backs down, issuing a vague promise to circle back to the issue or claiming he never intended to do what he initially said he wanted to do, anyway.

As he openly admits, Trump is still learning how the U.S. government operates, expressing dismay that a “so-called” judge can block the president’s executive orders, and that the executive branch doesn’t set the legislative agenda or calendar. With defeats piling up, Trump is slowly coming to the realization that he can’t just walk away from negotiations when the health care of millions of Americans or funding of the federal government are on the line.

These last-minute caves are undermining not only his own dealmaker reputation as a dealmaker, but the limited political capital a president has to sway resistant lawmakers or rally the American public behind a piece of legislation. Trump’s all-bark, no-bite presidency is weakening the office itself.

Trump Vows ‘Tremendous Support’ For Obamacare Repeal Vote, Gets Little

Trump ignored widespread criticism of the health care bill put forth by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on March 7, urging Congress to move “quickly” on it.

Two weeks later, with the GOP no closer to working through deep-seated divisions on the bill’s provisions, Trump tried to muscle through a vote. In Capitol Hill meetings and early-morning tweets, the President called out Republican holdouts by name and warned those who didn’t vote for the bill that they would be “ripe for a primary” in 2018. This bluster failed to sway hardline lawmakers from safely Republican districts, who openly accused Trump of backing down on a core campaign vow.

The night before the vote was scheduled, Trump and White House cheif strategist Steve Bannon upped the ante, reportedly telling the hard-right Freedom Caucus that they had no choice but to vote for the bill. This bluster continued into the next day, with Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, reportedly responding to Ryan’s acknowledgment that he didn’t have the votes for repeal by claiming: “The president doesn’t care. The president wants a vote.” Trump, Spicer said, had “left everything on the field.”

Then, all of a sudden, the bill was dead. Minutes before voting was supposed to begin, Trump called the Washington Post and announced that in anticipation of defeat, “we just pulled it.” He tried to soften this acute embarrassment for the GOP by blaming Democrats and announcing a sudden shift to tax reform, but that pivot never materialized.

Trump To Dems: I’ll Shut Down My Own Govt Over Obamacare Payments!

In mid-April, Trump proposed an audacious strategy to force Democrats to the bargaining table on health care: threatening to shut down the government on his own watch. With the deadline to fund the federal government drawing close, Trump suggested he would stop Obamacare subsidy payments to insurers that provide critical support to the individual market.

“What I think should happen—and will happen—is the Democrats will start calling me and negotiating,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal.

Democrats responded by telling the president to bring it on, calling Trump’s proposal a “cynical strategy” that would threaten the health care of millions of voters. Republicans, wary of constituent backlash, also displayed little appetite for tying Obamacare’s cost sharing reduction payments to the budget deal and risking a shutdown.

In private, they signaled CSR payments wouldn’t factor into the agreement, and by Wednesday Ryan announced flatly, “CSRs, we’re not doing that.”

The White House ultimately accepted defeat, with Trump aides acknowledging that they would continue to pay the cost-sharing subsidies, at least for now.

‘Big Beautiful Wall’ Is Coming…One Day

The White House initially took a similarly hard line on funding Trump’s signature border wall, warning that he wouldn’t sign a spending bill that didn’t include it.

“We have our list of priorities,” Mulvaney said at an event hosted by the Institute of International Finance. “We want more money for defense. We want to build a border wall.”

Democrats told the press that the White House was mucking up smooth negotiations with Republicans by introducing this “non-starter.”

As Congress returned from recess this week, the administration started to soften. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told NBC they might wait until September to secure wall funding, and Trump said the same in a private meeting with conservative publications. Republican senators like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) lowered expectations further, cautioning that a physical wall might not ever materialize.

On Tuesday, Mulvaney reluctantly acknowledged that the wall wouldn’t be funded in the temporary spending bill.

“We just thought that it would be a good first step to get these things that everybody agrees on and take that idea of a government shutdown off the table,” he told CNN, insisting that Trump is “not backing down” from its promise to build the wall.

Trump Decides ‘Worst Trade Deal’ Actually Okay For Now

Withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement was a core tenet of Trump’s nationalist vision for rebuilding the U.S. economy.

“NAFTA’s been very, very bad for our country,” he repeated last week at a speech in Wisconsin. “It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all.”

Rushing to score victories ahead of the 100-day deadline, Bannon and White House adviser Peter Navarro on Wednesday released a draft executive order to withdraw from the 1994 trade deal, alarming congressional Republicans.

“I think we’d better be careful about unintended consequences,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told Politico.

Then Trump received a call from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican Prime Minister Enrique Peña Nieto asking him to reconsider. Late Wednesday, the White House released a statement saying “President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time.” He would work with the world leaders to renegotiate the deal to their mutual benefit, the statement said.

A quick U.S. withdrawal “would be a pretty big shock to the system,” Trump informed reporters on Thursday, though he cautioned he may still do so if negotiations don’t go his way.

Thirteen current or former Fox News employees of color, including a current anchor, have joined two racial discrimination lawsuits against the network, CNN reported Wednesday. Those dozen-plus plaintiffs are just the beginning, their lawyer predicted.

“This lawsuit will continue to grow, I suspect,” attorney Douglas Wigdor said at a press conference, according to CNN, noting that he has received calls from additional on-air Fox employees since he filed an amended version of the complaint Tuesday.

In a statement, Wigdor accused the network of “systemic race discrimination” and expressed hope that the litigation would prompt the network to take swift action.

“When it comes to racial discrimination, 21st Century Fox has been operating as if it should be called 18th Century Fox,” the statement read.

Kelly Wright (pictured), a black reporter and anchor who has spent 14 years at the network, is now lead plaintiff on the class action suit, which was filed last month in state Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of two former payment department employees.

Wright alleged in the complaint that he was “effectively sidelined and asked to perform the role of a ‘Jim Crow’—the racist caricature of a Black entertainer,” according to CNN.

An award-winning journalist who serves as co-anchor of America’s News Headquarters, a Saturday program, Wright contended he’s been kept off of the network’s marquee programs, like “The O’Reilly Factor.”

He alleged his effort to do a series of stories about black communities in America was rejected by the show because “it showed Blacks in ‘too positive’ a light,” according to the complaint obtained by CNN.

Wright joins a complaint first brought by Tichoana Brown and Tabrese Wright, who alleged that Fox’s recently fired comptroller, Judith Slater subjected them to “top-down racial harassment.” This involved Slater demanding that black employees arm-wrestle white colleagues, mocking how black employees pronounced words like “ask” and “mother” and suggesting black men were “women beaters.” Fox News, its parent company, 21st Century Fox, Slater, and Fox’s general counsel Dianne Brandi are named as defendants, according to the New York Times.

Another former employee, Adasa Blanco, filed a related, separate complaint on Tuesday against Fox News, Slater and Brandi, alleging that top executives at the network ignored employees’ repeated complaints about racial discrimination, CNN reported.

Through a spokesperson, Fox News strenuously denied all of the allegations against the network and Brandi, calling them “copycat complaints” and vowing to “vigorously defend these cases.”

Slater was fired in February after the network learned about the allegations. Her attorney Catherine Foti told CNN in a statement that the racial discrimination complaints “are completely false.”

The beleaguered conservative news network currently faces two additional lawsuits from former on-camera employees accusing the network and its senior executives of sexual harassment and illegal surveillance, respectively.

LATE UPDATE 6:11 p.m. ET: The White House told the Washington Post late Wednesday that Ivanka Trump proposed the creation of a new fund to support female entrepreneurs, but would not control it. Though details of the proposal remain hazy, the World Bank is expected to manage the fund, which would likely offer both money and technical assistance to corporations, according to the Post.

Axios published a late update to its story to note that the World Bank, not White House, would manage it. The bank’s president, Jim Yong Kim, also released a statement saying he was “working with partners on the details around creating a facility for women’s economic empowerment, specifically through providing access to finance, markets, and networks.” Kim thanked Ivanka Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for their “leadership” on the issue.

Original story below:

White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump is establishing a “massive fund” to “economically empower women” that will be funded by contributions from foreign countries and corporations, Axios reported in a vague, five-paragraph bombshell on Wednesday.

According to Axios founder Mike Allen, Trump told him directly that she has already started soliciting funds to support the fund, which will provide “working and growth capital to small- and medium-sized enterprises,” and that she has support from President Trump and World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim to pursue the project.

A spokesman for the World Bank confirmed to TPM that Kim and Ivanka Trump are currently in talks about how best to finance it. The pair co-authored an op-ed for the Financial Times this week about the need for both the public and private sectors “to move decisively to invest in women worldwide.”

But what exactly Ivanka Trump’s fund will look like and how it will operate remains a giant question mark. Ethics experts told TPM that Axios’ description leaves it unclear if the fund will be a private, for-profit endeavor or if it will be run through a federal government agency.

“We just don’t know what this is: is it animal or mineral?” Kathleen Clark, an ethics expert at Washington University in St. Louis, said in a phone interview.

“Some of the questions that need to be answered are: is it being done through governmental authority or not? Instead of private equity, is it intended as some sort of non-profit?” Clark said.

Axios, the White House, and the Office of Governmental Ethics did not immediately respond to requests for additional information.

Federal employees face restrictions on soliciting funds for charitable organizations out of concern that solicitees could feel coerced into making donations, Clark said. She didn’t know if similar restrictions existed for federal employees soliciting private equity, but said it was unclear that Ivanka Trump had “any governmental authority” to make such requests.

On the other hand, Clark said, “This would not be okay for her to do in a private capacity” because her White House role would give the impression she was doing it on behalf of the Trump administration and create a whole web of possible conflicts of interest.

“It absolutely cannot be a private fund,” Richard Painter, ethics czar in George W. Bush’s White House, told TPM. “She can’t be at the White House soliciting money for a private foundation. We went through this with Hillary Clinton, who resigned from her foundation when she took a job as secretary of state.”

Painter said he doesn’t believe the Trump administration would “even think” of setting up an outside private foundation, and suggested it could be run through a government agency that has statutory authority to accept gifts.

“That’s what would be required: an official U.S. government agency with the authority to solicit gifts and to administer the funds,” Painter said.

Clark noted that the Axios report made it sound like they were soliciting investments rather than gifts, and that the words “massive fund” make it sound like a private sector initiative.

Axios’ reporting on the early contributors who have made “quiet commitments” offer few hints on the nature of the fund. It says only that “several corporations,” as well as “Canadians, Germans and some Middle Eastern countries” have vowed to contribute money, leaving it unclear if the donors are foreign governments, companies in those countries, or individual foreign citizens.

Ivanka Trump and the governments of both Germany and Canada have paid collective lip service to the need to support female entrepreneurship.

When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the White House in March, he, the President, and Ivanka Trump announced a new Canada-US task force on women in business and female entrepreneurs: the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. Canadian publication Maclean’s published a story last week questioning how much progress the task force has since made, noting that no meetings have yet been scheduled and that “there is no apparent infrastructure” supporting the group.

The President’s eldest daughter was also invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to attend a summit organized by the Group of 20 major economies in Berlin this week. During a Tuesday panel on feminism and female empowerment, she was booed by the audience for calling her father a “tremendous champion of supporting families.” Both Merkel and Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland shared the stage.

“I’m seeking the counsel … of informed and thoughtful women and men and I’m really striving to think about how best to empower women in the economy, both domestically and across the globe,” Ivanka Trump told the audience.

What that plan looks like remains to be seen.

The claims have an eerie familiarity. An older, male Fox News higher-up would invite a young, female colleague to his office, make comments about her looks, and ask her out for drinks or to accompany him to a hotel. In some cases, he would forcibly kiss her, or explicitly ask for sexual favors. If she did not comply, her star at the network would be swiftly extinguished.

Fox lawyers have argued that these common threads prove the dozen-plus women who have accused former CEO Roger Ailes and recently ousted anchor Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment are copycats out for money or attention. But more women just keep coming forward, and the company and its top executives have now also been accused of racial discrimination and illegally surveilling employees.

In public comments and multiple lawsuits filed against the company, former employees are alleging that actionable behavior was pervasive, involving more than the privileged leader (Ailes) and entitled star (O’Reilly). The old boys’ club environment cultivated on camera existed behind the scenes, too, the suits claim, and almost all of the high-level network executives who protected this behavior remain in their posts.

“Ailes was a powerful head and the people who enabled and were incredibly loyal and knew about his behavior are all still there; they’re leading the network,” Nancy Erika Smith, a lawyer representing former Fox contributor Julie Roginsky in her gender discrimination suit against Fox, Ailes, and the network’s co-president Bill Shine, told TPM. “So it shows that the culture really hasn’t changed.”

Shine, Ailes’ former right-hand man, public relations czar Irena Briganti, and Fox’s general counsel Dianne Brandi have also been accused of providing cover for perpetrators and orchestrating smear campaigns against ex-employees who speak out against the network. They all retain top posts at the company.

And in just the past week since O’Reilly, the highest-rated star at Fox, was let go, the network has been hit with a slew of new negative stories.

New York Magazine reported that seven black Fox employees intend to join a racial discrimination suit filed in March by two payroll staffers who alleged that Judy Slater, Fox’s recently fired comptroller, subjected black employees to “top-down racial harassment.” This included racially charged suggestions that black men were “women beaters,” as well as demands that black female employees arm wrestle white female employees, according to New York.

Former Fox News guest and conservative columnist Debbie Schlussel told the Detroit Free Press that anchor Sean Hannity yelled at her after she declined to accompany him back to his hotel (which he denied), while CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota went public with allegations that Ailes talked about her body parts, asked her to go to a hotel with him, and criticized her work after she declined.

Then on Monday, Andrea Tantaros, whose 2016 claims against the network and its top executives for sexual harassment claims are pending in arbitration, filed a new lawsuit accusing the same defendants of “illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking.” Tantaros alleged that to convince her to drop her sexual harassment case, her former employers hacked her computer and cell phone and used “sock puppet” social media accounts to provide ominous hints she was being surveilled.

Asked about pervasive cultural problems at Fox, a spokeswoman pointed to a statement from the network’s outside counsel, Dechert LLP. The statement only spoke to Tantaros’ second lawsuit.

“Fox News and its executives flatly deny that they conducted any electronic surveillance of Ms. Tantaros,” it read. “They have no knowledge of the anonymous or pseudonymous tweets described in her complaint. This lawsuit is a flimsy pretext to keep Ms. Tantaros and her sexual harassment claims in the public eye after the State Supreme Court directed her to bring them in arbitration.”

Lawyers for Ailes, O’Reilly and the network have in the past denied all sexual harassment allegations and rejected characterizations of the company culture as a toxic hierarchy.

Fox includes arbitration clauses in almost all of its employee contracts, meaning the legal proceedings that have resulted in a string of big-ticket payouts for accusers occur in secret. The New York Times recently reported that 21st Century Fox or O’Reilly paid $13 million in settlements to at least five women who accused the host of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

More details may come to light soon. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have taken an interest into whether Fox misled investors about paying millions of dollars in settlements, with the Southern District of New York launching a grand jury investigation this year. Tantaros’ lawyer, Judd Burstein, suggested the probe will look into the method in which they were paid.

“There is a grand jury investigation that it is being conducted by the securities fraud division of the U.S. Attorney’s office. And I do know that when Fox News talked to settle with Andrea Tanteros [sic] they wanted to pay the settlement out as salary,” Burstein told CBS last week.

“The inference I draw from that is there may have been a studied effort to hide the fact that there were all these settlements being paid out by disguising them as salary,” he said.

The network could also face a public trial. Nancy Smith told TPM that her client, Roginsky, a liberal commentator who sued the network in April, did not have an arbitration clause in her contract because she was a contributor instead of a full-time employee.

Smith said they hope to “try the case in front of a jury in New York, and bear it out there for the whole world to see.”

Asked Tuesday if former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose information on his security clearance application, White House press secretary Sean Spicer dodged.

“That would be a question for him,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing.
“I don’t know what he filled out or what he did or did not do.”

The bipartisan leaders of the House Oversight Committee announced Tuesday that there was “no evidence” that Flynn made the appropriate disclosures about payments he accepted from foreign governments, which he is forbidden from accepting as a former military officer. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said Flynn failed to note the $45,000 he was paid by Russian state media outlet RT to give a speech in Moscow in 2015 on his January 2016 security clearance application.

Spicer argued that Flynn filled out that form during the Obama administration, and brushed aside questions about the White House refusing the committee’s request for any documents “referring or relating to Lieutenant General Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals.”

Spicer’s argument was three-pronged. One, the Department of Defense also received a request for some of those documents and complied. Two, Flynn’s communications simply amounted to too much information for the White House to sift through. And three, the Trump team wasn’t aware of Flynn’s activities prior to Inauguration Day, though he served as a top campaign adviser and was a named national security adviser for the administration at the time.

“To say we want the national security adviser, whose job it is to talk with foreign counterparts on a daily basis, to document every call he may or may not have made is not a request that is able to be filled,” Spicer said, calling the request “outlandish.”

Journalists pointed out that all of Flynn’s calls were made as a representative of Trump, and that it was the transition team’s responsibility to properly investigate the background of an individual who would have access to the nation’s highest-level intelligence secrets.

“Why wasn’t he more closely vetted during the transition period?” one reporter asked.

“You fill out the forms and do a background check,” Spicer responded. “And they have a security clearance and fill it out and that’s how everyone operates under the same guise.”

As CNN reported, former government officials like Flynn would be asked to re-apply for national security clearances when they return to public service, and would have to detail any payments received by foreign governments.

The top Democrat and Republican on the House Oversight Committee announced Tuesday that ousted Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn could have broken the law by accepting payments from foreign governments as a former military officer.

After viewing classified documents that included his application to renew his security clearance, Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said there was “no evidence” that Flynn made the appropriate disclosures about payments he received from abroad.

“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, noting that the committee still needed to reach out to the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense for additional information.

“It was inappropriate,” he continued. “And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”

Flynn is a retired lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Obama administration. In 2015, he was paid $45,000 by RT, a state-run Russian media outlet, to give a speech at a gala in Moscow, where he was seated next to President Vladimir Putin.

Shortly after he was forced out of the Trump White House for failing to disclose conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., he filed paperwork with the Justice Department acknowledging that the $600,000 lobbying gig he was paid for while a top adviser to the Trump campaign “principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” Politico reported Tuesday that the Turkish businessman who hired him, Elim Alptekin, has business ties to Russia’s government.

Cummings called the documents his committee viewed about Flynn “extremely troubling” and said both he and Chaffetz believed they should be declassified for public viewing.

The Maryland Democrat said Flynn’s January 2016 application to renew his security clearance, obtained after months of effort by the committee, contained no mention of the funds he received on the Moscow trip or evidence that he sought permission to obtain that money.

Knowingly falsifying the application is a felony, Cummings said, punishable by fines and up to five years imprisonment.

Both Chaffetz and Cummings said the final decision about what would happen to Flynn rested with the Army Comptroller and Department of Defense, but that they wanted to hold a hearing with the retired general.

In a statement to NBC News, Flynn’s lawyer said he “briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, a component agency of DoD, extensively regarding the RT speaking event trip both before and after the trip, and he answered any questions that were posed by DIA concerning the trip during those briefings.”

Cummings also told reporters that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus last week refused their bipartisan request for any documents “referring or relating to Lieutenant General Flynn’s contacts with foreign nationals.”

Though neither he or Chaffetz alleged the Trump administration was trying to obstruct their investigation, Cummings called the lack of information “unacceptable.”

The bipartisan letter to Priebus and response from White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short are below.

Correction: This post originally misidentified Flynn as the former director of national intelligence rather than the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Turkish businessman who paid Michael Flynn’s consulting firm almost $600,000 while he was serving as a top adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign has extensive business ties to Russia, Politico reported Tuesday.

Ekim Alptekin, who runs Dutch firm Inovo BV, has since 2015 worked closely with Ukraine-born businessman Dmitri “David” Zaikan to coordinate Turkish lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., according to the report. Both Alptekin and Zaikan have negotiated business deals with Vladimir Putin’s government, according to court records obtained by the news site.

As Politico reported:

The man, Ekim Alptekin, has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government, according to three people with direct knowledge of the activities.

This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists.

A lawyer for Flynn, who was hired by Alptekin in August and made his final payments to contractors working on the Inovo project a month after Trump named him as national security adviser, declined to comment to Politico. Russia was under investigation for meddling in the U.S. presidential election during Flynn’s tenure with Inovo.

In March, shortly after being forced out of the White House for failing to disclose conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Flynn filed paperwork with the Justice Department acknowledging that his lobbying work “principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” He said in those filings that Flynn Intel Group’s task was to research and produce promotional material on Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes is trying to undermine his rule. The firm also pressured U.S. officials to investigate and take action against the cleric.

Former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros sued the network and a handful of its top executives Monday for allegedly carrying out a campaign of “illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking” against her after she went public with claims of workplace sexual harassment and retaliation.

It is the second lawsuit Tantaros has filed against her former employer within the last year. The first lawsuit, involving her sexual harassment claims, was sent to arbitration, where it is pending.

In the new strongly worded complaint, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, Tantaros’ lawyer accused Fox’s top-brass of “professional digital character-assassination.” They hacked her computer and cell phone, she alleged, and used an army of “sock puppet” social media accounts to subtly signal to her that she was being watched.

Tantaros alleged in the complaint:

As demonstrated below with accompanying exhibits, the Defendants in this case subjected Ms. Tantaros to illegal electronic surveillance and computer hacking, and used that information (including, on information and belief, privileged attorney-client communications) to intimidate, terroize, and crush her career through an endless stream of lewd, offensive, and career-damaging social media posts, blog entries and commentary and high-profile “fake” media sites which Fox News (or its social influence contractors) owned or controlled.

Ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, Fox Co-President Bill Shine, Fox PR czar Irena Briganti, and Peter Snyder, head of a company called Disruptor Inc., are named as the defendants who allegedly collaborated to “emotionally torture” Tantaros, the lawsuit claims.

In one instance, she alleged she received a copy of her book “Tied Up In Knots” at her home address one day after receiving a message from a fan asking her to sign his copy. In another, she saw a tweet about her brother Daniel’s death the day after she spoke to her mother on the phone about plans to celebrate the third anniversary of his passing.

The complaint notes that journalists critical of Ailes and disloyal to Fox were surveilled and subjected to defamatory attacks in the past, and alleges that a forensic analysis of Tantaros’ computer showed surveillance viruses not typically found in mass malware.

According to her account, the harassment campaign began last summer when she sued Fox and its senior executives for pushing her out of the network and smearing her reputation after she complained about unwanted sexual advances by Ailes and recently fired anchor Bill O’Reilly. At the time, Fox accused Tantaros of kicking up a fuss to get publicity for her book.

Ailes and O’Reilly left the network with hefty payouts after mounting public pressure, but have strenuously denied the harassment allegations against them.

A New York Supreme Court Judge ruled in February that Tantaros’ initial suit would move to private arbitration, as Fox requested, because her claims were covered by the arbitration clause of her contract.

In a statement, Fox News’ outside counsel, Dechert, LLP, denied her latest allegations.

“Fox News and its executives flatly deny that they conducted any electronic surveillance of Ms. Tantaros,” the statement said. “They have no knowledge of the anonymous or pseudonymous tweets described in her complaint. This lawsuit is a flimsy pretext to keep Ms. Tantaros and her sexual harassment claims in the public eye after the State Supreme Court directed her to bring them in arbitration.”

Read the full complaint below: