Trump spokesman calls Flynn probe 'appropriate'

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Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, along with ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, told reporters Tuesday Flynn failed to ask for permission to speak at a 2015 event in Russian Federation or register to lobby on behalf of the government of Turkey.

Flynn filled out the government's Standard Form 86 (SF-86) to renew his security clearance in January 2016, a month after he gave a speech in Moscow at an worldwide conference hosted by RT, even though he was no longer a government employee.

Attempts by members of US President Donald Trump's administration to sidestep the controversy over former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn by blaming the previous administration are absurd, former White House Communications Director Jen Psaki said on Friday.

But Flynn was forced to resign after less than a month when news reports revealed he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his conversations in December with Russia's ambassador about easing US sanctions on Russian Federation.

Among other payments, Flynn was paid $45,000 in 2015 to attend the 10th anniversary of the Kremlin-controlled Russia Today television network, sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a gala dinner.

As a former military officer, Flynn was required to ask for Pentagon approval before pocketing foreign payments and he was explicitly told that when he retired, Maryland representative Elijah Cummings revealed Thursday.

Rep. Elijah Cummings said Michael Flynn had been warned not to accept pay from foreign governments without approval.

The other two documents released by Cummings also pertain to foreign payments received by Flynn.

Defense Department guidelines warn that the department's top financial officer, the comptroller, "may pursue debt collection" if a retired officer does not seek permission to accept foreign payments before doing so.

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Flynn was warned in 2014, when he was retiring from the military, not to accept payments from foreign governments without advance approval from the Pentagon, according to documents released Thursday by a House committee.

Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the Army had no records that Mr Flynn requested that permission.

Flynn attorney Robert Kelner has defended his client by saying that Flynn did disclose the Moscow trip itself in briefings with the DIA, which is a component of the Defense Department. "DIA's letter actually confirms, in a terse section that is partly redacted, that General Flynn provided information and documents on a thumb drive to the Department of Defense concerning the RT speaking event in Moscow, including documents reflecting that he was using a speakers' bureau for the event". A spokeswoman for Cummings said Republicans on the committee were informed the documents would be released this morning. "We found no evidence that he did that". "908.pdf">letter to the acting Army secretary asking for a final determination on whether Flynn broke the law, and "if necessary, initiate a process whereby Lt. Gen. Flynn shall repay the money in question".

Through his lawyer, Flynn has offered to testify to the FBI and the House and Senate intelligence committee investigations, but only after obtaining a grant of immunity against subsequent prosecution.

After leaving the military, Flynn opened a government relations company and became a top adviser to the Trump campaign past year.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the Defense Department probe of Flynn was "appropriate if they think there is wrongdoing".

"But just remember, he was approved by the Obama administration at the highest level".

Spicer, in defense of the way Flynn was vetted, stood behind the fact that his clearances were approved under the Obama administration, not acknowledging that Trump was the one who chose to bring him into the administration.

"His clearance was last re-issued by the Obama Administration in 2016, with full knowledge of his activities in 2015, as you point out".

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