WASHINGTON (CN) – Top members of the House Oversight Committee revealed Tuesday that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn likely broke the law by failing to disclose or get permission from military officials to receive foreign payments from Russian organizations and the government of Turkey.
The revelation came after committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and its ranking member, Elijah Cummings, D-Md., viewed several classified memos and one of Flynn’s disclosure forms.
Retired military officers are constitutionally barred from receiving foreign payments, raising concerns about the legality of Flynn’s actions.
“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 during a news conference.
“If that money was received by Gen. Flynn — and we believe that it was — that money needs to be recovered,” Chaffetz added.
The Army and the Department of Defense will make the final determination on whether Flynn broke the law, Chaffetz said, noting that such violations carry the possibility of criminal prosecution.
He stopped short, however, of saying that Flynn had lied.
The committee had requested information from senior officials last month about Flynn’s foreign contacts and payments, his security clearance applications and other related information since he retired in 2014.
Of concern for the committee are a $45,000 payment for his appearance at a gala sponsored by Kremlin-backed media outlet RT, and more than $500,000 for lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government.
The committee had asked for Flynn’s SF86 form, which requires disclosure of foreign income.
Flynn, who advised the Trump campaign and served as his first national security adviser, was ousted from his position for failing to disclose meetings he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to the inauguration.
An attorney for Flynn responded to Tuesday’s assertions by saying his client told the Defense Intelligence Agency that he would be traveling to Moscow to attend a gala for a Russian state-sponsored television network.
Attorney Robert Kelner said Flynn also talked with the Defense Intelligence Agency staff after he returned from the trip and answered any questions they asked.