A “high point”–if we can call it that–of the Republican National Convention last summer was General Michael Flynn inciting a mesmerized crowd to chant “Lock her up!”
The “her,” of course, was Hillary Clinton, who was branded “guilty” in the manufactured email scandal that dogged her candidacy.
As fervor intensified, Flynn said:
“If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.”
Well…somebody might be going to jail, but it isn’t Hillary Clinton.
Flynn, who resigned in February as President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser amid allegations of working as a foreign agent for Russia, may be facing criminal charges for doing far more than a tenth of what Republicans hurled at Clinton.
News broke Tuesday that Flynn might have broken the law for not properly disclosing payments from Russia, according to House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) after they reviewed Michael Flynn’s security clearance application.
Chaffetz and Cummings presented their findings to reporters on Capitol Hill after a classified committee meeting. Rep. Cummings called what they uncovered “extremely troubling.”
Referring to the possibility Flynn received permission from the Pentagon or the State Department, or that he disclosed more than $45,000 he was paid for a speech to Russia’s RT-TV, Chaffetz said:
“I see no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law. 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. It was inappropriate. And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”
Thursday, Rep. Chaffetz asked the Acting Secretary of the Army in a letter for a final determination into whether Flynn broke the law.
Referring to law (37 U.S.C. § 908), Chaffetz asked:
“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.”
Rep. Cummings stated that security clearances stipulate willful omission of payments from foreign governments is a felony punishable with up to five years in prison.
According to a letter CNN obtained, the White House declined to provide Flynn-related documents the investigating panel requested. A White House aide disputed this, saying the administration could not provide documents because it does not have access to them. But now the White House is taking a different tack: blaming President Obama for Flynn’s position in the Trump administration.
“Earlier this week the White House refused, absolutely refused, to produce even a single document — not a single document in response to the bipartisan document request that I sent with our Republican chairman. Not one syllable. I watched [press secretary] Sean Spicer make all kinds of excuses about how hard it would be to comply with our requests. Come on, man. Look, General Flynn served in his position for 24 days, so that excuse at the White House will not fly…There’s obviously a paper trail, ladies and gentlemen. There is a paper trail that White House does not want our committee to follow. But let it be known that we will follow it. We will follow it with everything we’ve got.”
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), a member of the House oversight committee, said on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront there is “no question” Flynn had committed a crime.
After leaving the Trump administration weeks into its assuming the executive branch, Flynn registered with the federal government for lobbying work he performed before the November election that may have aided the Turkish government. He also reportedly lobbied for a Turkish businessman with Russian ties while working as a Trump campaign adviser.
Gen. Flynn was right about one thing: if he had done a tenth of what Hillary Clinton was accused of, he would be in jail. If that’s all it takes, he is in a lot more trouble than he planned for.
An even more intriguing question lingers, though: Why is the White House providing cover?
This is about more than Michael Flynn.