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Former Trump National Security Adviser Was Paid To Advise Russian Firms

Top House Democrats, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. (at the podium), said this week they want an investigation into President Trump's connections with Russia, such as when he learned that his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had discussed U.S. sanctions with a Russian diplomat.
J. Scott Applewhite

President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, collected more than $50,000 from Russian companies, including a Kremlin-backed television network, according to documents released in a congressional inquiry.

That total came from several sources. In one case, Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was paid more than $33,000 to speak at a conference in Moscow sponsored by RT, the government-run news organization. Flynn sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during dinner at the event. The speaking engagement was held in December 2015, just two months before Flynn became a formal adviser to Trump's presidential campaign.

The documents include emails from RT explaining that Flynn was invited to the event for his "expertise as an intelligence professional" and "to talk about the decision-making process in the White House — and the role of the intelligence community in it."

Those documents were obtained from Leading Authorities, a firm that arranges Flynn's speaking engagements. It was paid more than $11,000 to arrange the December dinner event. Other documents released show Flynn was paid $11,250 by a Russian airline. He was paid the same amount by Kaspersky Government Security Solutions. The Russian cybersecurity firm is a subsidiary of Kaspersky Labs, an underwriter of NPR.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released a statement saying he wants the Defense Department to recover those payments. He says they violate the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which bars retired military officials from accepting gifts or payments from any foreign government.

Cummings has sent a letter to Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis and FBI Director James Comey, asking whether Flynn disclosed his communications with and payments from Russian agents during his vetting process for national security adviser. Flynn resigned from that role last month after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Pence and other senior White House officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

This is not the first time Flynn has conducted business associated with foreign governments. He recently registered with the Justice Department acknowledging he worked as a foreign agent last year representing the Turkish government. Papers showed he was paid $530,000 for lobbying work on its behalf.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, politics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.
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