What others say: Administration should come clean on Flynn, Russia

  • By New York Times editorial
  • Monday, May 1, 2017 11:00am
  • Opinion

Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, was fired weeks ago, but his ties to Russia keep raising questions this White House won’t answer and dark suspicions it can’t seem to dispel.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat, got right to the point on Tuesday, saying Mr. Flynn may have broken the law by failing to disclose payments totaling over $65,000 in 2015 from companies linked to Russia. They included $45,000 received from Russian state television for a speech in Moscow; on the same trip, he attended the network’s gala, sitting at the elbow of President Vladimir Putin. With his background, Mr. Flynn clearly knew that the failure to disclose payments on his security clearance forms could have disqualified him for a sensitive national security role.

Mr. Chaffetz also said Mr. Flynn, as a retired general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, should have sought permission from the secretary of state and the secretary of the Army for his trip to Russia and for the payment. “I see no evidence that he actually did that,” Mr. Chaffetz said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Cummings said that the White House is stonewalling committee requests for documents related to Mr. Flynn’s hiring and firing, including records of his phone calls and correspondence. Mr. Chaffetz, amazingly, described the White House as “cooperative.” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, later called the committee’s records requests “outlandish” and “ridiculous.” Which can hardly be called cooperative.

The fact remains, though, that a Republican committee chairman has said Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser concealed payments from Russia while Moscow was under investigation for meddling in the election, and that deepens an already serious problem for this White House.

After Mr. Flynn was fired in February, he disclosed that he’d been working as a foreign agent throughout the campaign, collecting more than $500,000 in consulting fees from a Turkish company with ties to both Ankara and Moscow. He registered as a foreign agent only after he left the White House.

These aren’t simple bookkeeping errors on Mr. Flynn’s part: Failure to disclose foreign payments is a federal offense that carries a potential five-year prison term. Richard Painter, White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, wrote on Twitter: “US House must subpoena the docs. If no compliance, impeach. Zero tolerance for WH covering up foreign payoffs.”

If Mr. Chaffetz believes, as he said, that Mr. Flynn may have violated the law, he should unleash his committee’s formidable investigative powers. Yet he has declined to open an investigation, or subpoena the records the White House is withholding. Mr. Chaffetz said on Tuesday that he would defer to existing investigations by the Pentagon and the House Intelligence Committee. What’s really needed is a special prosecutor, because each time this administration is given a chance to clean up its Russia mess, it works instead to keep the facts under cover.

— The New York Times,

April 25

More in Opinion

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: We’re at risk of losing our well-crafted constitution

Vote no for a constitutional convention in November.

Sticky notes filled out in response to the question “Why does Democracy and voting matter?” are photographed on Saturday, June 25, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alex Koplin)
6 words to define democracy

What words would you use?

File
Opinion: The latest gun regulation bill is nothing to cheer about

The legislation resembles the timid movements of a couple of 6-month old children…

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C. in this file photo. (File)
Opinion: The Alaskans with the power to defend America’s democracy

It’s well past time to publicly refute Trump’s lie

File
Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

File
Opinion: Confusion over ranked choice voting persists

Voter confusion over ballot procedures will continue

Former Gov. Bill Walker, right, and his running mate former commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Heidi Drygas, speak to Juneauites gathered for a fundraiser at a private home in Juneau on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Voices of the Peninsula: A vote for Walker/Drygas is a vote for Alaskans

It’s easy to forget some of the many lost lawsuits, devastating budget cuts and general incompetence that defines Mike Dunleavy’s term as governor

This photo shows a return envelop for 2022 special primary. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Voices of the Peninsula: Learn how to access your ballot

The recent special primary election was the first time the state conducted an all mail-in ballot election

Most Read