Flynn again under spotlight for unreported foreign business deals

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 13, 2017

Former business associates of Michael Flynn have told lawmakers that he traveled to the Middle East in 2015 as part of a private proposal to build nuclear power plants across the region, a trip that the former Trump administration national security adviser never disclosed during his security clearance process.

According to a letter signed by Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, and Eliot Engel of NY, the ranking members of the Oversight and Foreign Affairs panels, respectively. In response, officials from the U.S. companies provided statements to the Democrats, confirming Flynn's trip in 2015. The lawmakers - Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Rep. Eliot Engel of NY - are now asking the companies and Flynn to provide the names and nationalities of any officials he met with during the trip overseas.

It is illegal under federal law to knowingly falsify or hide relevant information from a security clearance form. Flynn accepted the payment, but did not disclose that on his initial security filings, either, according to the letter.

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.

A White House spokesman could not be reached for comment, nor could Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner.

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".

The Democrats also requested that Flynn and representatives from the companies involved in the deal provide "transcribed interviews" with the committees' staff by October 4.

"I joined General Flynn in Israel", Cochran said in his statement. "The primary goal of the Israeli leg of the trip was to ensure that the ACU project architecture would be in the best interests of Israel".

Dr. Thomas Cochran, an adviser to ACU Strategic Partners, told the lawmakers that Flynn was expected to press Egyptian and other officials to hold off on accepting a rival offer from Russian Federation to finance and construct a smaller system of four reactors in Egypt and two in Jordan. "The ACU project gives President Trump and Secretary (Rex) Tillerson a valuable private sector mechanism for helping stabilize and improve relations with Russian Federation as well as helping accelerate U.S. -Russia cooperation in the Middle East", Cochran said.

The trips to Egypt and Israel were not the first foreign contacts Flynn failed to disclose on his security clearance forms.

The short-lived national security adviser also didn't initially disclose that he was paid for the trips, the Democrats say.

The managing director of ACU, Alex Copson, told the Democrats that his company covered Flynn's travel expenses.

White House employees are required to publicly disclose details of their personal finances when they take government roles. The Saudis would then sell that energy to eight other Sunni Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan.

Those arms sales would have likely been facilitated by Rosoboron, a Russian state-run weapons exporter, according to an internal presentation, published by Newsweek, from one of the companies involved in the deal. The Treasury Department sanctioned the Russian state-run company in September 2015 for violating USA laws prohibiting weapons sales to Iran, Syria and North Korea.

The Democrats wrote that Cochran and Copson's "responses suggest that you and other officials at your companies continue to strongly believe in the desirability of this project and that you may have discussed it with Trump administration officials during and after General Flynn's tenure at the White House". Asked whether there were talks with the White House, an attorney for ACU referred CNN to a letter the firm sent to the Democrats earlier this summer, which does not address the topic. Flynn also listed that he was a consultant to another company, IronBridge Group, which was connected to the project. One of those payments came from RT, the Kremlin-controlled TV network that United States intelligence says pushed propaganda and was involved in Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

Cummings and Engel sent their letter as part of an inquiry into the renewal of Flynn's 2016 Top Secret security clearance. In that letter, they noted that Flynn did disclose a trip to Saudi Arabia that he took in October 2015, but they said he withheld key details and misled the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Edward Royce, who oversees the Foreign Affairs panel.

Thomas Egan, an attorney for ACU, said Tuesday that he had received the lawmakers' letter, but the company had not yet decided whether it would respond.

Flynn's company received subpoenas from the Senate and House intelligence committees earlier this year, as part of their investigation into Russian meddling.

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