- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The White House on Tuesday attempted to put distance between President Trump and his former top security aide after congressional investigators said former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn may have failed to disclose foreign financial ties, including a dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while preparing to join Mr. Trump’s White House.

In February the retired general resigned after just weeks on the job as Mr. Trump’s top security aide following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his dealings with Russia during the transition from the Obama to Trump administrations — particularly about discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

On Tuesday a bipartisan congressional investigation reviewing classified documents, including a financial disclosure form provided by the Defense Intelligence Agency, said Mr. Flynn may have broken the law by not fully detailing his dealings with Russia when he applied for a security clearance in January to work at the White House.

Speaking to reporters after a closed-door document review, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and ranking Democratic member Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said they had “grave concerns” about Mr. Flynn’s actions and called their findings “extremely troubling.”

Earlier Tuesday, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee announced a public hearing May 8 to hear testimony for the first time from the former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, who played a role in Mr. Flynn’s firing.

In a statement, Mr. Flynn’s lawyer said his client had already briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency, which Mr. Flynn had led until 2014, about the RT Moscow event. Mr. Flynn also answered all DIA questions concerning the travel, according to his attorney, Robert Kelner.

Interaction with Russian officials became a flash point late last year because of allegations that the Trump campaign conspired with Moscow to tamper with the U.S. presidential election. Those allegations are the subject of several congressional probes, including the effort by Mr. Chaffetz and Mr. Cummings to obtain documents related to Mr. Flynn’s foreign contacts and payments from the White House, FBI, Department of Defense and Director of National Intelligence. The FBI is also conducting an investigation.

Committee investigators found earlier this year that Mr. Flynn was paid over $65,000 in 2015 by companies linked to Russia, including the Russia Today news organization, to attend a gala celebration and sit at the head table beside Russian President Vladimir Putin. U.S. intelligence officials see Russia Today as a Kremlin-funded propaganda unit. Mr. Flynn’s lobbying firm was also given $530,000 for work that presumably benefited Turkey, according to investigators.

“Personally, I see no evidence or … data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law,” Mr. Chaffetz, Utah Republican, said on Tuesday regarding the payments.

“That money needs to be recovered,” Mr. Chaffetz added. “You simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else.”

The lawmakers also said they were frustrated with the White House response to their request for more information in their probe. The administration contends that at least some of the requests from the panel go beyond the scope of what they were investigating.

“The White House has refused to provide the committee with a single piece of paper,” Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, said.

Later on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer shot back that all the questions about Mr. Flynn and his security clearance disclosure predated his brief stint in the West Wing. “There is nothing being asked for that is in reference to his service here,” Mr. Spicer told reporters at the daily briefing at the White House.

He said that all high-ranking employees at the White House fill out financial disclosure and background check forms, and the onus is on each individual to do it correctly. “Everybody fills out forms all the time,” said Mr. Spicer. “Everything that is being discussed occurred prior to his employment at the White House.”

Since his resignation, Mr. Flynn has offered to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution. On Tuesday, Mr. Cummings said he feels Mr. Flynn must be questioned directly regarding his foreign payments.

— Sally Persons contributed to this report.

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