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White House blocks Flynn document request

White House blocks Flynn document request

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Congressman Jason Chaffetz said there could be ‘repercussions’ if Flynn broke the law

The White House has informed a US congressional committee that it will not comply with a request to release documents related to a former aide.

It rebuffed a request by the House Oversight Committee, which is probing payments received by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The committee chairman said Mr Flynn failed to comply with the law in not disclosing the payments.

He quit his job in February after misleading the White House.

Mr Flynn failed to disclose conversations with the Russian ambassador to Vice-President Mike Pence.

His links to Russia are being scrutinised by the FBI and two congressional committees, as part of wider investigations into claims Moscow sought to help Donald Trump win the US presidential election.

The committee was seeking Mr Flynn’s application for security clearance, and the White House referred the request to the Defence Department.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short also said in a letter on 19 April that he would be “unable to accommodate” the request because it relates to Mr Flynn’s actions before joining the White House.

Mr Flynn wants immunity to testify on alleged Russian election meddling, his lawyer says.

He is now accused of not disclosing payments he received for speeches and lobbying in Russia and Turkey.

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Flynn gave campaign speeches for Trump during the election

Massive vetting breakdown – Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

The legal noose appears to be tightening around Michael Flynn’s neck.

While he was forced to resign as Donald Trump’s national security adviser because of political concerns – what the White House said was a lack of honesty with Mr Pence and other administration officials – he’s now being accused of disclosure violations that could carry criminal charges.

While this is obviously concerning to Mr Flynn, it’s also a significant embarrassment for the White House, as these revelations represent a massive breakdown in the vetting process for its high-ranking officials.

The position of national security adviser is extremely sensitive – effectively the president’s eyes and ears within the defence and intelligence communities – and the person who fills the role should be free from any possible foreign entanglements or possible ethical conflicts.

The contours of Mr Flynn’s Russian connections were firmly in view as he emerged as a contender for a White House job and yet, it appears, the president and his team either pressed on without delving deeper into the matter or – perhaps more concerning – allowed the former general to come on board in spite of everything they may have known.

Such actions border on gross negligence.

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“I see no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law,” said the Republican chairman of the committee, Jason Chaffetz.

He was referring to whether Flynn had sought permission from his superiors before giving a 2015 speech in Moscow.

The speech earned him $45,000 (£35,000) from Russian broadcaster RT.

Mr Flynn did not initially disclose payments received by foreign governments when filing financial disclosure forms related to his White House security clearance.

He filed an amended form in March, revealing three payments from the Russian government.

He also received payments from Turkey related to lobbying efforts he undertook on their behalf in Washington after leaving the Defense Intelligence Agency, and before joining the White House administration in January.

“As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else,” Mr Chaffetz said.

“And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate.

“And there are repercussions for the violation of law.”

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