The U.S. Army revealed Friday it is seeking to impose a penalty payment against retired Gen. Mike Flynn for failing to disclose lucrative speaking engagements and business activities with Russian and Turkish business entities.
The Department of Defense Inspector General determined Flynn made around $450,000 from business and speaking engagements while drawing from military retirement pay, including $33,750 for a 2015 speaking event in Moscow, Russia. The DoD Inspector General recorded these alleged payments to Flynn in a January 2021 memo that was first released to the public last week through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
These payments may be in violation of federal regulations against retired U.S. military service members working for foreign governments. According to a May 2 memo to Flynn, obtained by the Washington Post, the Army is seeking $38,557.06 from Flynn for money and in-kind compensation he received for attending the 2015 event in Moscow, which was in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Russian television channel Russia Today, or RT.
Federal regulations for retired U.S. military members prohibit anyone “holding any office of profit or trust under the Federal Government from accepting any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state without the consent of Congress.” The provision prohibits the employment of a retired U.S. service member by a foreign government.
According to the 2021 DoD IG memo, investigators were able to find no indication that Flynn sought prior approval from the Department of State or Department of the Army to attend the 2015 event in Moscow.
RT launched in 2005 as a branch of ANO-TV-Novosti. RT describes itself as “an autonomous, non-profit organization that is publicly financed from the budget of the Russian Federation,” however, according to their Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing with the U.S. Department of Justice, they describe themselves as “An agent of ANO-TV-Novosti, the Russian government entity responsible for the worldwide broadcasts of the RT Network.”
The 2021 DoD IG memo states Flynn was contracted to speak at the 2015 RT event through Leading Authorities, Inc., an event planning company. Flynn was paid $33,750 for the 2015 speech and reimbursed for visa application fees and related travel expenses. Sean O’Donnell, the acting Defense Department inspector general 2021, described Flynn’s interactions with RT as work for “an entity that appears to be controlled by the Russian government.”
Army spokesman Michael Brady told the Washington Post that the Army determined in April that Flynn’s actions violated the regulations prohibiting retired military service members to accept employment with a foreign government. Brady said the Army complaint would be forwarded to Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which would be able to pull the $38,557.06 from Flynn’s retirement pay.
It was immediately not clear if Flynn intends to fight this judgment by the Army. Flynn did appear to make reference to the Army’s move in a May interview with Just The News. In the May interview, Flynn said the Army will “reach into my retirement and they’re going to take some money out.”
Flynn was previously prosecuted and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a January 2017 interview about a December 2016 phone call he had with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Flynn eventually recanted his guilty plea, after obtaining new legal representation, and pointed to FBI notes from his 2017, which indicated FBI agents didn’t believe Flynn was lying during the interview.
In May of 2020, the Trump-era DOJ moved to drop the case, but the judge presiding over the case made the rare move to invite outside opinions on whether he should allow them to dismiss the case. Flynn’s legal team at the time argued courts asking for outside opinions, known as Amicus Curiae briefs, are common in civil cases but have no analog in federal criminal cases like Flynn and that the authority to prosecute such cases rests with the DOJ alone, not the judge or outside opinions. Trump ultimately issued Flynn a full pardon in his case during his last few weeks in office, while Flynn’s case was still tied up in federal court.
During his May interview with Just The News, Flynn said the Army’s latest move to take money from his retirement pay was just the latest in a series of efforts to punish him for political reasons. “It’s just another dig, another means to embarrass, another way that they just want me to shut up and
and I’m not about to, it’s not in my nature, I’m not designed that way and I will tell you that uh it’s — it actually stiffens my backbone even more.”
Reacting to news that the Army would try to take from Flynn’s retirement pay, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), a U.S. Marine veteran, tweeted, “Just take his pension away and call It even. Traitors don’t get pensions from the government they try to overthrow.”