Documents released by the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee show a representative from RT, the Russian television network, successfully negotiating a lower speaking fee from Mike Flynn, the retired general who served briefly as Donald Trump’s national security advisor before stepping down amid questions about his foreign ties.
Flynn spoke at an RT conference in December 2015, and was famously seated at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin. The documents released this afternoon by the Oversight Democrats show Flynn’s booking agent for speeches, a company called Leading Authorities, negotiating logistics for the visit with the head of marketing for RT, a state-sponsored broadcaster.
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While critics have suggested that Flynn was influenced by Russian money, the email chain shows RT asking for a discount, and getting a quick yes from Flynn’s rep.
“Sorry it took us longer to get back to you” writes Alina Mikhaleva of RT on Nov. 9, 2015, “but the problem is that the speaking fee is a bit too high and exceeds our budget at the moment, so we had to negotiate it with the management. Do you think there is any possibility to reduce the price to 45K?”
Flynn’s rep responds, “Great news! He has accepted (followed by a smiley face emoticon) … I can get a contract over to you stat.”
The size of the fee Flynn originally requested is not in the document, but at the time Leading Authorities was asking for up to $55,000 for appearances in Europe and $75,000 for events in Asia, according to Yahoo News.
The top Republican and top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the Defense Department on Feb. 17 saying they were looking into Flynn's speaking engagements.
"We are attempting to determine the amount Lieutenant General Flynn received for his appearance, the source of the funding, and whether he may have received payments from any other foreign sources for additional engagements," wrote Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R.-Utah, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D.-Maryland.