The Democratic ranking member of the House Oversight Committee questions Vice President Mike Pence's denial that he had known about former national security adviser Michael Flynn's ties to the Turkish government, citing a letter penned shortly after the 2016 presidential election.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland asserted that either Pence knew about Flynn's impropriety or "he was running a sloppy shop."
Flynn, who was forced to resign from the White House in February for misleading Pence about his communications with a Russian ambassador, had received $530,000 in payments from the Turkish government to lobby for their interests from August through November.
He had not disclosed his work to the U.S. Department of Justice and did not register as a foreign agent until March 7, according to New York Daily News.
Lobbying on behalf of a foreign government without disclosure can have serious consequences and cast doubt on an administration's decision making.
During the transition period, Flynn ordered that an Obama administration plan to push ISIS out of Raqqa with Kurdish forces be delayed. The plan had been in the works for months, but consisted of Kurdish forces, who the Turkish have repeatedly voiced disapproval over, McClatchy reports.
On the day Flynn finally registered as a foreign agent, Pence asserted that he had not known about Flynn's lobbying ties to Turkey.
"Hearing that story today was first I heard of it," Pence told Fox News on March 9. "And I fully support the decision President Trump made to ask for Gen. Flynn’s resignation."
On May 17, sources familiar with the DOJ probe of Flynn disclosed that the former national security adviser had informed the Trump transition team that he was under federal investigation as early as Jan. 4, The New York Times reports.
On May 18, the vice president, who chaired Trumps' transition team, doubled down on his assertion that he had not known of Flynn's ties to Turkey until after he was fired.
"The Vice President stands by his comments in March upon first hearing the news regarding General Flynn's ties to Turkey and fully supports the President's decision to ask for General Flynn's resignation," Pence's office told Politico on May 18.
Cummings swiftly challenged the denial, saying that he had personally sent a letter to Pence warning him about Flynn.
In November, the Maryland Democrat submitted a letter to Pence's office alerting him to media reports of Flynn's lobbying ties to Turkey, Business Insider reports
On May 19, Cummings accused Pence of either misleading the public or incompetence.
"Either he's not telling the truth, or he was running a sloppy shop because we have a receipt ... that says they received the letter," Cummings told CNN.
Cummings added, "My belief is they really wanted [Flynn] to be a part of their operation, period."