How’s this for a bit of bipartisanship? Elijah Cummings and Jason Chaffetz have penned a joint letter to a private speaking event firm to probe for more details about a 2015 trip that Michael Flynn took to Russia.
Retired Lt. Gen. Flynn announced his resignation as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser on Monday after saying he “misled” White House officials about his prior contact with a Russian ambassador before Trump’s inauguration. His phone call reportedly happened on the same day that President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for its alleged cyber-interference in the November elections.
As the story unravels, America is learning Flynn had other contact with Russia well before the election and inauguration. One of those points of contact was a December 2015 paid gig hosted by Russia Times. Today, stalwart Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz – the same Republican lawmaker who suggested Maryland absorb parts of D.C. to give its constituents representation – sent a letter to Leading Authorities Inc., which employed Flynn for paid speaking gigs.
In their letter, they asked exactly how much he was paid and by whom. Cummings and Chaffetz are ranking member and chair, respectively, of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Lieutenant General Flynn has publicly acknowledged that he was paid to travel to Moscow and speak at a gala hosted by RT, the Kremlin-backed media outlet,” they wrote. “He has also stated that this paid speaking engagement was arranged through your company.”
Specifically, they asked Leading Authorities to send their committee any communications about Flynn’s paid speaking gig in Moscow, any other speaking events it booked for him and even his contract with the company.
They noted that under the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, any government official — active or retired — is prohibited from accepting payment from a foreign government or agent without congressional approval.
As WBAL noted, Cummings already asked the Pentagon to send any information that Flynn sent to the Department of Defense about his Moscow trip. Officials said they found no records of Flynn requesting permission for the trip or reporting payments he received. Today’s letter to Leading Authorities was effectively a follow-up to that exchange.
As Flynn’s scandal unfolds, Cummings has made it clear he’s on the side seeking to press Trump’s White House on the retired lieutenant general’s misconduct. Others, the Maryland congressman included, have questioned whether Chaffetz will do the same.