Here's our look at the Trump administration and the rest of Washington
- President Trump tweets new attack on "Morning Joe," which quickly fires back
- White House defends Trump's coarse tweets, saying he "fights fire with fire"
- Trump will meet Russia's president in Germany. But will they discuss Russian meddling in the election?
- White House will fill FCC with crucial vote on net neutrality rules
- Justice Neil M. Gorsuch is pushing the Supreme Court to the right on guns, gays and religion
Top Democrats are broadening their scrutiny of President Trump's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, to inquire about a trip to the Middle East he failed to disclose as required for renewal of his top-level security clearance.
In a letter to Flynn’s attorney Monday requesting documents, the senior Democrats on two House committees drew a link between a visit Flynn apparently made to the Middle East in the summer of 2015, on behalf of a pair of U.S.-based clients, and a subsequent deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia to build 16 nuclear power plants.
Newsweek reported this month that Flynn, as an advisor at the time to defense consulting firms X-Co Dynamics and the Iron Bridge Group, promoted a potential bid by U.S. and Russian firms to advance nuclear energy in the Arab world, financed by Saudi Arabia and other gulf nations.
Flynn did not report the trip in the application he submitted in January 2016 to renew his five-year security clearance. Yet he testified to Congress the previous June about what he called an “extensive trip” to the region in which nuclear development was discussed.
Flynn did disclose what appears to have been a separate six-day trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2015, according to the Democrats’ letter. But he did not specify the nature of his business there or identify the conference he says he attended. Also, the Democrats noted, the hotel that Flynn reported staying in did not appear to exist.
The questions about Flynn's consulting work in the Middle East add to earlier ones. In March, Flynn filed paperwork with the Justice Department retroactively disclosing lobbying work for the Turkish government. The White House said it was unaware of that work, though Flynn at the same time had an active role with Trump's campaign.
The Democrats on the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees, in their letter, said the extent of Flynn's unreported foreign contacts and financial interests was “unclear” from 2014, when he was forced out as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, until 2017 when Trump made him the national security advisor.
The Democrats, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Eliot L. Engel of New York, questioned whether those business interests with Saudi Arabia and Russia may have influenced Flynn during his brief time in the White House position – including in a recently finalized series of commercial and military deals announced during Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month.
The letter from the Democrats otherwise does not raise the president’s trip or attempt to link the visit to Flynn’s conduct. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) recently questioned why the president chose to make Riyadh the first stop he made outside the United States as president.
“I am looking into it,” she said in a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I just think it was a very strange choice to go there."