POGO Calls for Justice Department Investigation of Flynn for False Statements

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April 25, 2017

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) calls on the Justice Department to immediately investigate and consider for prosecution the failure of Michael Flynn, the former National Security Advisor, to disclose payments he received from foreign governments on his security clearance questionnaire, known as an SF-86. Furthermore, the Defense Department should consider whether he violated any provision of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The questionnaire makes it clear that omitting material information can result in criminal penalties up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine under 18 U.S. Code § 1001, the section of the criminal code addressing false statements. General Flynn, as a former flag officer in the U.S. military and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, should have been more familiar than most incoming administration officials with the need to be fully upfront about his financial and other relationships with foreign governments.

The Russian government paid $45,000 to General Flynn for a speaking engagement in December 2015, and a pro-Turkish government consulting firm paid him more than $500,000 for lobbying in 2016. In both cases, General Flynn did not disclose information about these foreign government payments on his SF-86, which asks a number of detailed questions on foreign contacts and foreign business dealings, including whether an applicant has received a “benefit from a foreign country.” (General Flynn also failed to report his Turkish lobbying activities in a timely manner pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.) His omissions were significant since the payments he received were large, recent, and from countries in which the United States has an especially high national security interest.

"Accountability and justice help ensure our national security as well as our government’s integrity," said Danielle Brian, POGO's executive director. "As someone who occupied one of our country's most important national security positions, General Flynn should face a penalty for failing to disclose the substantial sums he was paid by foreign governments. The higher you climb in power, the higher the standards should be."

The bipartisan leadership of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have stated that General Flynn may have broken the law based on their review of documents obtained from the Defense Department. “Personally I see no evidence or no data to support the notion that General Flynn complied with the law,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chairman of the committee, at a press briefing. The White House has not provided information on General Flynn in response to the committee’s requests, stating that it is does not have information relevant to its investigation and that Trump transition documents about Flynn before January 20—Inauguration Day—are not in its possession.

"Moving forward, the Flynn case should be a lesson for White House attorneys, who clearly need to better vet candidates for sensitive positions before they embarrass the administration," added Ms. Brian. "The White House also needs to fully cooperate in any probes and not shield information about illegal acts from investigators by hiding behind dubious rationales."

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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