Democrats urge investigation into Michael Flynn’s Russia links and work with Kremlin-backed RT

Former national security adviser is understood to have been paid more than $30,000 by the broadcaster

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A senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has called for Mike Flynn to face a criminal investigation over a payment the retired general received from Russian state-backed broadcaster RT.

Mr Flynn briefly served under Donald Trump as the President’s national security adviser until he was forced to resign after he admitted misleading the vice-president, Mike Pence, and other Trump officials about phone calls to the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kisilyak.

But it was his acceptance of money from RT that prompted Alabama congresswoman Terri Sewell to call for a probe led by the FBI.

Ms Sewell suggested the bureau had grounds to investigate Mr Flynn under the ‘emoluments clause’, which prohibits those in office from accepting gifts from foreign states.

It came after new information surfaced about more than $65,000 that Mr Flynn was paid in 2015 by companies with links to Russia.

More than $30,000 of that sum was thought to have been paid by RT after Mr Flynn spoke at an event in Moscow in 2015 organised by the media company, which has offices in the US but is funded by the Kremlin.  

She said: “I just find it really hard to believe that given the emoluments clause does apply to retired officers, like Mr Flynn, I can’t believe that Mr Flynn, a retired military officer, would take money from the Russian government in violation of the US constitution, and I believe that such violations are worthy of a criminal investigation by the FBI.”

Her comments came during a Congressional hearing on links between the Trump team and Russia.

Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), confirmed the “direct connections between the Russian government and RT individuals”, and said his agency had known for some time about the “monetary flow” between the Kremlin and the broadcaster.

Meanwhile, President Trump attempted to shift the focus of the lengthy committee hearing onto FBI director James Comey's refusal to say whether he briefed President Barack Obama on Mr Flynn’s contacts with Russia.

Mr Trump used the official @POTUS account to tweet a video clip of Mr Comey being asked if he informed the previous president about calls made by Mr Flynn.

Mr Comey said he would not discuss that case or any other discussions he had with Mr Obama.

The tweet appeared to suggest that the Obama administration was behind leaks about Mr Flynn's contacts with Russia's ambassador to the US.

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