Pentagon opens investigation into Michael Flynn

The House Oversight Committee said the Pentagon warned Flynn in 2014 that he could not accept payments from foreign governments.

"This letter explicitly warned General Flynn, as he entered retirement, that the Constitution prohibited him from accepting any foreign government payments without advance permission", Cummings said.

Among other payments, Flynn was paid $45,000 in 2015 to attend the 10th anniversary of the Kremlin-controlled Russia Today television network, sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a gala dinner.

In a Thursday news conference about the documents, Cummings also trained his sights on the White House for refusing to release full information about Flynn, saying the stonewalling "makes the American people think they have something to hide". There were also various internal email exchanges at the end of November 2015 "regarding actual and potential interaction" with Flynn.

They say they as well as the Department of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation received a form letter from the Oversight Committee asking for documents related to his security clearance.

The Department of Defense told The Independent that they initiated their investigation of Mr Flynn on 4 April - weeks before the Oversight Committee first took their accusations public.

Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner, had previously said that Flynn briefed the DIA on his speech to RT and the payments, but Cummings said Thursday that another document that was declassified this week shows no evidence to support that statement.

The release of the letters Thursday amounted to a damning development for the former Trump aide, who is also under investigation by the House and Senate intelligence committees and the FBI as part of their probes into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Beyond the stated awareness of Flynn's trip to Russian Federation, such permission was not outlined in an IG letter to the House Oversight Committee, which is also investigating Flynn.

Flynn was sacked as national security adviser in February after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

In this February 10 photo, then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn sits in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

"Though we've walked hand-in-hand with the Democrats during this investigation, this morning they broke with long-standing protocol and made a decision to release these documents without consulting us", Henshaw told CNN. And in March, he retroactively filed as a foreign agent for more than $500,000 worth of lobbying work he and his firm did for Turkey.

US President Donald Trump's administration accepted Flynn's security clearance issued by his predecessor, Spicer said in a press briefing.

Just months after Flynn's 2014 firing from DIA, the intelligence agency's lawyers informed the retired general of ethics guidelines for his post-government career. He was sacked after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about discussions he had with Russian officials.

In releasing the letters on Thursday, Cummings said there was "no evidence, not a shred, that [Flynn] disclosed his payments from RT, the Russian propaganda outlet".

He said a clearance is valid for five years, and in the White House, an individual does not have to be reinvestigated when a new administration takes office during that five-year active window.

Defense Department guidelines warn that the department's top financial officer, the comptroller, "may pursue debt collection" if a retired officer does not seek permission to accept foreign payments before doing so.

  • Salvatore Jensen