House Dems want probe of intelligence chief's ties to Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) " Top House Democrats called Wednesday for an investigation of President Donald Trump's national security adviser over his ties to a Russian propaganda outlet.

They want the Pentagon to investigate whether Michael Flynn violated the Constitution by accepting payments from a government-controlled TV station in Russia. Flynn is a retired Army lieutenant general and intelligence officer.

Flynn traveled in 2015 to Moscow, where he joined Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials in a celebration of the RT network.

Flynn later explained he had been paid for taking part in the event, but brushed aside concerns that he was aiding a Russian propaganda effort.

The top Democrats from six House Committees sent a letter to the Pentagon Wednesday seeking the investigation.

"It remains unclear how much Gen. Flynn was paid for his dinner with Vladimir Putin, whether he received additional payments from Russian or other foreign sources on separate occasions, or whether he sought the approval of the Department of Defense or Congress to accept any of these payments," the Democrats wrote.

Laura Seal, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined to comment to The Associated Press. She said the Pentagon would respond to the members of Congress.

The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution prohibits federal officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign governments. The Defense Department warns that the prohibition applies to both active-duty and retired military.

In his position as national security adviser, Flynn did not need to be confirmed by the Senate. That means he was not subjected to the same kind of public scrutiny as Trump's cabinet picks.

The Democratic House members who sent the letter requesting the investigation were Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Adam Smith of Washington, John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Adam Schiff of California and Eliot Engel of New York.

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Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

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Follow Stephen Ohlemacher on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/stephenatap

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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