Michael Flynn left Russian speaking fees off initial financial disclosures

Michael Flynn omitted Russia income
Michael Flynn omitted Russia income

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Story highlights

  • Flynn included the speaking fees in disclosure forms he filed Friday
  • The speaking engagements include RT, Russia's state-funded television network
  • The disclosures show Jared Kushner and other high-profile advisers held as much as $1.6 billion in assets

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, did not include receiving thousands of dollars in speaking fees from three Russian companies in initial financial disclosures to the Office of Government Ethics covering the last two years, copies of the reports show.

Flynn submitted the initial disclosures in mid-February, just days before he resigned from his post after it became public that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. His resignation came amid federal probes into allegations that Trump associates colluded with Russian operatives to interfere in the US election.
The initial disclosures left out that Flynn received money from Russia's state-funded television network, RT, for a speech in Moscow in December 2015 and from air cargo company Volga-Dnepr Airlines and cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc. for speaking engagements in the United States. The initial document also left off nearly two dozen other speeches from a diverse array of organizations, including business groups and financial services companies, which Flynn was required to itemize.
    Flynn included the speaking fees in disclosure forms he filed Friday, according to the documents. Both sets of filings were made public as part of a White House release of financial disclosures of 180 White House officials.
    Flynn attorney Robert Kelner said Flynn "had only just begun the financial disclosure filing process at the time he left the White House.
    "He filed a draft form explicitly listing his speakers bureau contract, and he expected to engage in the usual process of consultations with the White House Counsel's Office and OGE regarding what he was expected to disclose," Kelner said. "That process was suspended, however, after he resigned. When the White House asked him this week to complete the process and to itemize the specific speaking events, he did so."
    When asked to list sources exceeding $5,000 year, in his initial paperwork, Flynn disclosed only five organizations from which he received speaking fees in the past two years, including a speakers bureau that set up many of the speaking engagements that he detailed in his second filing. The revised forms specify nearly 30 entities that paid Flynn to give speeches during the same period, saying he received at least $250,000 from individual companies, groups and speakers bureaus for the work.
    Fourteen of those speeches were arranged by Leading Authorities, the bureau Flynn listed on his initial disclosure. The agency set him up with the three speeches to Russian groups, as well as talks to a slew of other companies and organizations, such as Wells Fargo and the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce.
    Flynn also left some speeches off his initial forms that don't appear to be linked to Leading Authorities or another speakers bureau. Those include talks to Halifax Investment Management and Black Duck Software, which he identified only as consulting jobs in his initial filing.
    The initial and recent disclosures also show discrepancy in how he listed a speaking engagement paid for by Ibrahim Kurtulus, a former official with the nonprofit Assembly of Turkish American Associations, a Turkish-American advocacy group based in D.C.
    In his initial forms, Flynn lists Kurtulus in a section detailing sources of income exceeding $5,000 in the past two years. In his revised forms, Flynn provided more detail in a section of the form covering income from the past year, saying he received $10,000 from Kurtulus for a speech he delivered in October 2016.
    The disclosure forms show Flynn made as much as $1.5 million last year. According to his financial snapshot, Flynn received $827,055 in salary and bonus from his firm, Flynn Intel Group, alone.
    CNN has reported that Flynn gave the speech in Moscow, paid for by the Russian television network RT, but the existence of the other two speaking engagements paid for by Russian companies was disclosed last month by House Democrats.
    In his recent filing, the retired lieutenant general listed the speaking engagement for "RT TV" when asked in the form to disclose "compensation exceeding $5,000 in a year," but did not specify the amount. CNN previously reported that Flynn, according to a top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, was paid more than $33,000 of a $45,000 speaking fee by RT for the speech in December 2015, with most of the remainder of the money going to Leading Authorities, the speakers bureau.
    The US intelligence community has long assessed RT, formerly called Russia Today, to be a propaganda tool of the Kremlin, writing in a January report on Russian interference in the US election that the organization had participated in disinformation campaigns aimed at the US. Flynn initially said he was paid by his speakers bureau for the talk.
    The forms say Flynn received "compensation exceeding $5,000 in a year" from the Russian airline and cybersecurity company for speaking engagements in the United States. House Democrats last month also revealed the existence of those two speeches, saying Flynn received $11,250 from the airline and $11,250 from the cybersecurity firm.
    The White House acknowledged in March that Trump's transition team was aware before Flynn was tapped to serve as national security adviser that he had engaged in work that would likely require him to register his consulting firm as a foreign agent.
    Flynn's Justice Department filing last month raised questions when it revealed that Flynn's firm worked on behalf of a Turkish-owned company, Inovo BV, to improve US confidence in Turkey's business climate.
    Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 in payments from the company and acknowledged in its registration as a foreign agent that the work may have benefited the Turkish government.
    The White House has many advisers who earned millions of dollars last year, including President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, whose assets combined with her husband's could exceed $700 million.
    Ivanka Trump and her husband, senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, collected about $195 million in income, according to a new financial snapshot of about 180 of the men and women serving in Donald Trump's White House.
    Other Trump aides with lucrative histories include Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn, the former president of banking giant Goldman Sachs, who netted up to around $75 million in the previous year. White House chief strategist Steve Bannon made up to $2.5 million.
    The newly released financial disclosure forms list the assets the Trump aides held when they walked in the doors of the White House in January -- before administration counsel advised them to resign from various postings, divest certain holdings or recuse themselves from future decisions. But the documents nevertheless offer a portrait into the lives of several key White House aides, especially those who came from Wall Street or have other ties to the financial industry.
    Kushner, like Trump, a prominent real estate titan, held a position in 267 separate entities, ranging from the Trump transition team to dozens of property holdings in New York and New Jersey.
    Ivanka Trump, who just this week formally said she would join the West Wing after serving as an informal adviser to her father, has yet to file her own disclosure forms. But the White House said earlier on Friday that her documents would look largely similar to her husband's.
    Bannon's forms reveal numerous ties to various conservative organizations and sources funded by the family of influential Trump donors Bob and Rebekah Mercer, such as Breitbart News, which he led as executive chairman, and Cambridge Analytica, a data firm used by many Republican clients. Other income sources for him are Bannon Strategic Advisors, a consultancy firm valued at as high as $25 million, along with Affinity Media Holdings, which could have awarded him capital gains of as high as $1 million last year.
    Bannon is also in the process of selling some of his stake in Cambridge Analytica and Glittering Steel, another Mercer-backed entity, according to the forms.