posted at 7:21 pm on May 22, 2017 by John Sexton
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to chairman Jason Chaffetz Monday saying he now has documents that show Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn “lied to investigators” during a 2016 interview to renew his security clearance. From Rep. Cumming’s letter:
[T]he Oversight Committee has in our possession documents that appear to indicate that General Flynn lied to the investigators who interviewed him in 2016 as part of his security clearance renewal.
Specifically, the Committee has obtained a Report of Investigation dated March 14, 2016, showing that General Flynn told security clearance investigators that he was paid by ‘U.S. companies’ when he traveled to Moscow in December 2015 to dine at a gala with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The actual source of the funds for General Flynn’s trip was not a U.S. company, but the Russian media propaganda arm, RT.
So the problem here is not that Flynn tried to keep his trip to Russia a secret. He told investigators he had visited Russia with family for a Russian media conference. The problem is that he apparently also told investigators all the funding for the trip (which included visits to other countries besides Russia) came exclusively from U.S. companies.
The letter says RT paid for Flynn’s appearance by routing the money through his speaker’s bureau, which is a U.S. company. However, RT also paid directly for Flynn’s airfare and lodging, plus that of his son who was also on the trip. The other problem, mentioned in the letter, is that Flynn claimed he had only had “insubstantial” contacts with foreign officials. But when Flynn went to Russia for the RT conference he was seated a table full of Russian officials including Vladimir Putin who was seated right next to him. Even if this was just public, dinner-table conversation with a language barrier, this seems like something you should probably mention when asked about contact with foreign officials.
Ultimately this may spell some trouble for Flynn, who is prepared to plead the 5th to avoid testifying, but Rep. Cummings is using it to re-up his demand for a subpoena of White House documents related to Flynn’s vetting. After demanding a list of documents from Trump’s top aides, the letter concludes, “These issues may not necessarily involve criminal activity, but they all related to our Committee’s core oversight function.” In short, this is a Democratic fishing expedition.