Former General Mike Flynn disclosed to then-President-Elect Donald Trump‘s transition team in early January 2017 that he was under federal investigation for his lobbying work for Turkey, according to a Wednesday report from the New York Times.
The newspaper cited two anonymous sources, who claimed that Flynn first revealed his ties to the Turkish government “on Jan. 4…to the transition team’s chief lawyer, Donald F. McGahn II, who is now the White House counsel.” A second conversation also took place “between Mr. Flynn’s lawyer and transition lawyers.”
While the publication briefly touched on the “investigation into possible collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russian operatives to sway the presidential election,” the report zeroed in on the former national security advisor’s “work…for Inovo BV, a Dutch company.” Inovo BV is owned by Ekim Alptekin, whom the Times identifies as “a Turkish businessman who is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.”
Alptekin’s company paid Flynn $600,000 “to run an influence campaign aimed at discrediting Fethullah Gulen, an reclusive cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and whom Mr. Erdogan has accused of orchestrating a failed coup in Turkey last summer.” Despite this contract with man with close ties to the Turkish regime, the former general didn’t register as a foreign agent.
According to the Times, both the Trump transition team and the Justice Department became concerned with Flynn’s possible ties to the Turkish government after he published an anti-Gulen op-ed in November 2016. Less than a month after the released of the opinion piece, the DOJ informed the former army officer that “it was scrutinizing his lobbying work.”
Despite his disclosure about the federal investigation, President Trump brought Flynn on board as National Security Advisor. Even though he was on the job for just 24 days, he was apparently able to direct the administration’s foreign policy in a pro-Turkey direction.
McClatchy’s D.C. bureau reported on Wednesday that Flynn advised his predecessor, Susan Rice, to “hold off” on a plan to use Kurdish forces in Syria in an offensive to capture ISIS’s capital, Raqqa. The news service underlined that the former general’s suggestion was “consistent with the wishes of Turkey, which had long opposed the United States partnering with the Kurdish forces.”
Ironically, President Trump would go on to approve a proposal to arm Kurdish forces in early May 2017, despite the warnings and protests from Turkey.
[image via screengrab]