Tags: Afghanistan | Michael Flynn resignation | Russia | Syria | Leon Panetta | speaking | disclosure

Panetta Says 'Rules Were Not' Honored on Flynn Disclosures

CNN's "The Lead"

By    |   Tuesday, 25 Apr 2017 05:14 PM

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday "it certainly seems as if the rules were not adhered to here" regarding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's failure to disclose speaking fees and other payments from foreign countries – and reports of Russian involvement in both the French presidential election and in Afghanistan "only confirms that Russia is an adversary."

"It will be investigated by both the House and Senate intelligence committees," Panetta, who also served as CIA director under former President Barack Obama, told Jake Tapper on CNN of the Flynn situation.

"More importantly, it's probably being investigated by the FBI," he said. "The FBI clearly have a lot more leverage here, because they can actually prosecute for any crimes that have been committed."

The leaders of the House Oversight Committee said Flynn might have violated federal law by accepting $45,000 in a speaking trip to Moscow in 2015 he did not report in the initial disclosure forms he completed after he was named national security adviser.

Republican Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Democratic Vice Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland said Flynn could be criminally prosecuted because, as a former Army officer, he was barred from accepting the foreign payments.

Robert Kelner, Flynn's attorney, said Tuesday his client told the Defense Intelligence Agency he would be traveling to Moscow to attend a gala for the Russian state-sponsored television network.

Kelner said Flynn also talked with DIA staff after he returned from Moscow and answered any questions they had asked.

Flynn filed an amended form Friday, disclosing the $45,000 he received from the RT-TV speech, along with as much as $1.3 million for other work for political groups and government contractors.

Chaffetz and Cummings also accused the Trump administration of not providing complete information to Congress about Flynn's communications when he joined the White House.

"The best policy is for the White House to fully cooperate in these investigations," Panetta told Tapper. "When the White House decides that it's going to stonewall on one issue or another, then the White House becomes the target for concern as to what their trying to hide."

Moscow also is reportedly leaking "fake news" on French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron – and the Kremlin is arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"Cyber is the battlefield of the future," Panetta said. "We're seeing it now with what Russia tried to do in using cyberattacks to influence our election.

"They have learned how effective that can be, and now they are using the same tactics in France, and they will use it in Germany," he said. "They will use it in other elections."

Regarding the Afghanistan reports, Panetta told Tapper "we have to treat Russia as an adversary.

"They are continuing, not only to hack, to involve themselves in our elections. They are continuing to be involved not only in the Ukraine and Syria.

"They are continuing to try to disrupt our relations in other countries – and now they are arming the Taliban, which is our enemy in Afghanistan.

"The Taliban is what is trying to essentially disrupt the ability of Afghanistan to be able to secure and defend itself."

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Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday "it certainly seems as if the rules were not adhered to here" regarding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's failure to disclose speaking fees and other payments from foreign countries.
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Tuesday, 25 Apr 2017 05:14 PM
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