The ongoing drama of Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (Ret) and his alleged past legal and ethical violations has exploded, generating more questions than answers for the Congress, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the White House.
On April 4th, the Pentagon’s Inspector General launched an investigation into Flynn, freshly relieved of his short stint as President Trump’s national security advisor, for accepting money from foreign groups—a practice that is closely regulated by the Department of Defense and generally discouraged:
In the past, the Pentagon has advised retiring officers that because they can be recalled to military service, they are subject to the Constitution’s rarely enforced emoluments clause, which prohibits top officials from receiving payments or favors from foreign governments.
The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), pulled few punches after reviewing the latest investigative reports on Flynn. Cummings has released several damaging documents including a 2014 letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to Flynn which is explicit in its statement of DIA policy and procedure, indicating that Flynn knowingly and willfully disregarded the stated guidelines.
Other records made public by Cummings are perhaps the most detrimental to Flynn’s defense. Flynn clearly, and admittedly, accepted $45,000 to appear at a Kremlin-controlled media gala event in 2015. In the fall of 2016, Flynn’s company, Flynn Intel group, received $530,000 from a Dutch firm with reputed ties to the Turkish government. The most concerning of all is the fact that Flynn retroactively registered this past February as a foreign agent.
Dousing the inferno with gasoline, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, requested an internal investigation by the Army to determine if Flynn violated the law and if recompenses to the government were indicated:
“By all appearances, Lt. Gen. Flynn violated 37 U.S.C. § 908 by accepting compensation from entities associated with foreign governments without obtaining consent to do so. I request that you or the appropriate entity investigate this matter and make a final determination as to whether Lt. Gen. Flynn in fact violated section 908.”
“In light of these apparent violations, I request that you determine whether Lt. Gen. Flynn violated 37 U.S.C. § 908 and, if necessary, initiate a process whereby Lt. Gen. Flynn shall repay the money in question. If your assessment finds that Lt. Gen. Flynn’s actions were consistent with DOD policies and guidelines, I request a written explanation of that conclusion.”
Flynn’s attorney, Robert K. Kelner, has addressed each accusation and allegation with his own documentation in a precise and clear manner. In a statement released on Twitter, Kelner proves that the DIA did, in fact know about Flynn’s visit to Russia and were aware of the content of his presentation. Flynn had briefed the DIA prior to and immediately after the trip, supplying the agency with a thumb drive of information about the visit. Kelner has insinuated that key information is being purposely hidden:
“The Department was fully aware of the trip. We urge DIA and the Committee to release the full, unredacted letter, along with the documents that Flynn provided to DIA during the briefings and details concerning the in-person briefings provided by General Flynn to DIA.”
Whether any laws were broken by Flynn, which remains to be determined, irreparable damage has been done to his reputation and any future enterprise he might pursue. The White House, once a staunch supporter of Flynn, has distanced itself from any discussions about the ongoing investigation. In his daily presser, Sean Spicer was asked if the President would initiate legal action against Flynn had he still been employed. Spicer responded, “I think the president made the right call at the right time, and it’s clearly paid off. He continues to stand by it.”
For the man who once felt the rush of a meteoric rise to the top, holding the position of Director of the DIA and National Security Advisor to the President, Flynn has become persona non-grata in the fickle environs of American politics. His star has crashed, and he may have only himself to blame.