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White House denies lawmakers’ request for info about Flynn payments

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn answers questions in the briefing room of the White House February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.
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National Security Adviser Michael Flynn answers questions in the briefing room of the White House February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.

The bipartisan leaders of the House Oversight Committee said Tuesday there is "no evidence" former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn complied with the law when accepting payments from the governments of Russia and Turkey.

"As a former military officer, you simply cannot take money from Russia, Turkey or anybody else. And it appears as if he did take that money. It was inappropriate, and there are repercussions for the violation of law," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the committee, told reporters.

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Flynn received $45,000 in December 2015 to speak at an gala celebrating Russian TV, a state-run news channel deemed by U.S. intelligence officials as an arm of the Russian government. He also received more than $500,000 for lobbying work on behalf of the Turkish government.

Chaffetz and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the highest ranking Democrat on the panel, addressed reporters shortly after releasing a letter from the White House declining their request for more information about the payments.

"The White House has refused to provide this Committee with a single piece of paper in response to our bipartisan request, and that is unacceptable," Cummings said.

Chaffetz, however, told NBC News he does not believe the White House is being uncooperative. He simply thinks they don't have any information to share.

"The reality is I just don't think there are any documents because Gen. Flynn was required to proactively ask permission prior to engaging with Russia and Turkey. Not only was he supposed to ask for permission, he was supposed to get permission, and he didn't," he said.

A White House official told NBC News that most of the documents the committee asked for would be in the possession of other agencies, while other inquiries were too expansive.

"We can't be accused of declining to share things we do not have or not filling requests that are too broad to fill," a White House official said.

Cummings and Chaffetz spoke to reporters after viewing classified memos and the lieutenant general's disclosure form. It appears Flynn did not report the payments when applying to renew his security clearance. Cummings said the potential crime is punishable with up to five years in prison.

"I see no information or no data to support the notion that Gen. Flynn complied with the law," Chaffetz said.

Flynn served as a national security during President Donald Trump's campaign and was chosen as his national security advisor. Flynn resigned in February after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.