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Flynn again under spotlight for unreported foreign business deals

Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump former national security adviser, is under further scrutiny for failing to disclose overseas contacts related to a proposed nuclear project when he sought a renewal of his security clearance last year.
Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump former national security adviser, is under further scrutiny for failing to disclose overseas contacts related to a proposed nuclear project when he sought a renewal of his security clearance last year. AP

Several former business partners of Michael Flynn have provided evidence to Congress confirming that the former White House national security adviser pursued a proposed U.S.-Russia partnership to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East, efforts he failed to disclose when he sought to renew his security clearance last year.

In addition, Flynn didn't disclose that he was paid $25,000 for championing the plan, which also envisioned financing from Saudi Arabia, according to documents obtained by Democrats on two House committees investigating his activities.

Flynn, a former top campaign aide to President Donald Trump, could face prison time for failing to reveal the foreign trip and contacts on his security clearance renewal application, or to disclose it to investigators during his background check. Both could be criminal violations.

Flynn resigned his White House post after only a month because he misled administration officials about a telephone call he held during the transition with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss sanctions against Russia.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates said that Gen. Michael Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence with false information and created a “compromised situation" during her testimony on the Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The Democrats on the two House committees – Oversight and Government Reform, and Foreign Affairs – have forwarded the new information to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 election. He is already looking into whether Flynn knowingly received secret payments from the Turkish government during the campaign.

A key question raised by the Democratic lawmakers is whether Flynn continued to work on the nuclear plan during the presidential transition, and then when he was ensconced as White House national security adviser after Trump's inauguration, “without disclosing his foreign travel or contacts,” they wrote in a letter dated Wednesday to Flynn’s nuclear plan partners seeking additional information. Newsweek disclosed the proposed nuclear project in a story last June.

“The American people deserve to know whether General Flynn was secretly promoting the private interests of these businesses while he was a campaign adviser, a transition official, or President Trump’s National Security Adviser,” said Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, and Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking members of the Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels, respectively.

The American people deserve to know whether General Flynn was secretly promoting the private interests of these businesses while he was a campaign adviser, a transition official, or President Trump’s National Security Adviser.

Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, and Eliot Engel of New York

One of Flynn’s partners told the lawmakers that the proposed nuclear project was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to “stabilize and improve relations with Russia.”

At a senate hearing on May 3, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D - R.I.) asked FBI Director Comey why the information gathered by the FBI's questioning of former National Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn took two days to reach the White House.

A White House spokesman could not be reached for comment, nor could Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner. Cummings and Engel have asked the former Flynn partners to submit to staff interviews.

Beside Mueller, they copied Republican Reps. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Edward Royce, who oversees the Foreign Affairs panel. A spokeswoman for Gowdy could not be reached for comment. Royce’s spokeswoman declined to comment.

Flynn is a retired lieutenant general and was a widely respected intelligence officer who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Barack Obama, but was forced out because his tenure was viewed as chaotic. He has already come under scrutiny by investigators for failing to disclose that he was paid for a 2015 trip to Moscow to attend a dinner, where he sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His trip was paid for by RT, a Kremlin-sponsored global news operation. U.S. intelligence agencies say RT played a key role in the Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 election.

The proposed American-Russian-Saudi Arabian venture was hatched by Flynn, who has his own lobbying firm, along with several consulting companies: ACU Strategic Partners and X-Co Dynamics/IronBridge Group, whose leaderships include several retired high-ranking military officers.

Newsweek reported that the plan was for the United State and Russia to build and operate nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, then sell the fuel throughout the Middle East. It was also viewed as a way to tilt Russia away from Iran by substituting its profits from arms sales to Tehran with revenue from the nuclear power plants.

Key officials with the three consulting groups confirmed to Cummings and Engel that Flynn went to Egypt and Israel in June 2015 to promote the project. They needed to convince Israeli officials that the project “would be in the best interests of Israel,” according to Thomas Cochran, of ACU Strategic Partners.

Their answers were in response to a letter for information and documents related to Flynn and the project that Cummings and Engel sent in June following publication of the Newsweek story

Among the documents is a series of emails related to the project, including one that includes Flynn as a recipient, along with a top Jordanian official, as well as others.

But the two Democratic leaders said none of the former Flynn partners in the project disclosed the identities of any foreign officials he might have dealt with, “or any foreign business associates in Russia, China, or other countries with whom General Flynn was working.”

Alex Copson, managing director of X-Co Dynamics Inc./ACU Strategic Partners, told the lawmakers that his company covered Flynn’s travel expenses, as well as paying him $25,000 for “loss of income and business opportunities resulting from the trip.”

Flynn eventually reported that he received more than $5,000 from ACU for travel expenses, but never the $25,000, a check that Copson told the lawmakers that Flynn apparently has not cashed.

In response to their June letter seeking information about Flynn’s involvement in the proposed project, Kelner, Flynn’s attorney, told Cummings and Engel that they were responding to subpoenas, but “did not anticipate producing documents in response to other requests.”

David Goldstein: 202-383-6105, @GoldsteinDavidJ

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