Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first National Security Adviser who resigned after 24 days on the job, failed initially to disclose payments he received from Russian-linked firms, financial disclosure forms released by the Trump administration on Saturday reveal.
In the initial filing submitted in February, Flynn does not list payments from RT, the Russian state-owned television station or other Russian-backed firms. In an amended disclosure filed Friday, Flynn lists a number of Russian-backed companies - including RT - and notes he received speaking fees.
In response to questions about the differences in the filing, Flynn’s lawyer told the Associated Press that the first filing included the speaking fees in bulk. He noted that the initial filing was a draft and was not followed by consultations with federal ethics officials because Flynn left the administration just days after turning it in.
Flynn has long been dogged by allegations of receiving money from Russia. In March, Democrats on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee released documents in mid-March revealing Flynn was paid a fee $45,000 by RT for a speech in Moscow in 2015. At the GOP convention in July 2016, Flynn had denied Moscow had funded the RT speech, telling Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff that he “didn’t take any money from Russia, if that’s what you’re asking me.” “Well then, who paid you?” inquired Isikoff. “My speakers’ bureau,” Flynn said. “Ask them.” However, a speakers’ bureau is just an agency, a conduit for payments by parties interested in . Russia would have paid the speakers’ bureau, which would have taken its cut, and then passed on the rest of the payment to Flynn.
Flynn attorney Robert Kelner told the Associated Press that Flynn’s first filing was a draft that normally would have been revised through a consultation between the White House counsel’s office and the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
“Because he resigned, that usual consultation process was suspended. When the White House contacted him this week, and asked him to complete the process, he did so,” Kelner said, noting the second filing is the finalized version.
Flynn also disclosed a speaking engagement from a Turkish businessman. Since his high-profile departure from the Trump administration, Flynn and his firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., filed paperwork with the Justice Department formally identifying Flynn as a foreign agent and acknowledged his work for a businessman with close ties to the Turkish government.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said he didn’t believe Flynn’s lobbying work was known by the Trump administration during his tenure there.
The bulk of Flynn’s income comes from his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Inc., where he is listed as the chairman. Upon joining the Trump administration, Flynn had said he would dissolve his companies, and his lawyer said he did shut down Flynn Intel in Nov. 2016. His financial disclosure forms reveal he had positions at 11 companies.
Flynn also listed work as an FBI consultant.
Flynn has been back in the headlines this week as the Senate intelligence committee has begun to hold hearings in its investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election. Flynn’s lawyer said Thursday that Flynn would be willing to testify if he was offered immunity - and Mr. Trump seemed to implicitly back that idea, calling the investigations a “witch hunt.”