The state-sponsored Russian television network RT paid former Defense Intelligence Agency head Mike Flynn more than $45,000, plus perks, to speak at its 10 anniversary gala in December 2015, according to documents released by Democrats on the House Oversight Committee Thursday.
RT also paid to fly Flynn and his son to Moscow and put them up at a luxury hotel from December 9 to December 12, according to email exchanges between his speaker’s bureau, Leading Authorities, and a representative of the network.
Flynn was interviewed by an RT correspondent onstage, and was famously seated at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin during dinner.
The fee negotiated by Leading Authorities was $45,000 plus expenses, which was lower than the initial fee requested by the agency. Flynn's son accompanied him on the trip, and his expenses were also covered.
The documents released include a paycheck from Leading Authorities to Flynn for $33,750.00, which was his fee for the speech after Leading Authorities deducted its 25 percent commission. RT also covered $386 for the cost of visas.
While critics have suggested that the speaking fee was an attempt by Russia to influence Flynn, an email chain released by committee Democrats shows RT asking for a discount, and getting a quick 'yes' from Flynn’s aide.
“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?”
The documents apparently show that Flynn gave two other speeches to the American divisions of Russian firms earlier in 2015. Volga Dnepr Airlines and the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc. each paid Flynn $11,250 after commission.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cumming, D.-Maryland sent a letter Thursday to President Trump, FBI Director James Comey, and Defense Secretary James Mattis that accused Flynn of ”violating the Constitution … by accepting tens of thousands of dollars from an agent of a global adversary that attacked our democracy.”
RT is financed by the Russian government, but the other companies are private concerns.
Cumming accused Flynn of violating the Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which has been construed to prohibit the acceptance of foreign payments by retired U.S. military officers.
He also requested access to portions of a form that Flynn may have filed as part of his security clearance process to become national security adviser, Standard Form 86. The form requires applicants to list foreign contacts.
Flynn served as Trump's national security advisor for less than a month before questions about his foreign ties sparked his dismissal. He was director of the Defense Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration from 2012 to 2014, before being pushed out and retiring from the Army with the rank of lieutenant general.