Ex-se­cu­rity aide Flynn also worked for Turkey

Ex-na­tional se­cu­rity aide probed cleric Er­do­gan tar­geted.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Peter Baker and Matthew Rosen­berg ©2017 The New York Times

Dur­ing his time help­ing Trump on the cam­paign trail, the re­tired mil­i­tary of­fi­cer also was prob­ing cleric tar­geted by Er­do­gan.

Michael WASHINGTON — Flynn, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s first na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, acted as a for­eign agent rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of Turkey’s govern­ment in ex­change for more than $500,000 dur­ing last year’s cam­paign even as he was ad­vis­ing Trump, ac­cord­ing to dis­clo­sure forms filed this week.

Flynn, a re­tired Army lieu­tenant gen­eral, was hired by a prom­i­nent Turk­ish-Amer­i­can with ties to the govern­ment of Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan, who has en­gaged in a wide­spread po­lit­i­cal crack­down after sur­viv­ing a mil­i­tary coup at­tempt. Flynn was as­signed to in­ves­ti­gate Fethul­lah Gulen, a Turk­ish cleric liv­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia who was blamed by Er­do­gan for help­ing in­sti­gate the July putsch.

Flynn signed a con­tract for the work just three weeks after de­liv­er­ing a fiery speech at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion en­dors­ing Trump and lead­ing “lock her up” chants ad­vo­cat­ing the im­pris­on­ment of Hillary Clin­ton for her use of a pri­vate email server while sec­re­tary of state. With­out dis­clos­ing his fi­nan­cial in­ter­est, Flynn pub­lished an op-ed ar­ti­cle on Elec­tion Day ar­gu­ing that Turkey was mis­un­der­stood and as­sail­ing Gulen as “a shady Is­lamic mul­lah” and “rad­i­cal Is­lamist.”

The con­tract ter­mi­nated after the elec­tion, when Flynn went on to be­come Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser. He was forced to re­sign after just 24 days when it was re­vealed that he had mis­led Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and oth­ers in the White House about the sub­stance of a tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion he had with Rus­sia’s am­bas­sador.

Flynn reg­is­tered as a lob­by­ist last year but did not file pa­pers reg­is­ter­ing as a for­eign agent un­til Tues­day. A White House of­fi­cial said Thurs­day that Trump was not aware that Flynn was work­ing for Turkey’s in­ter­ests dur­ing the cam­paign, but de­flected ques­tions about its pro­pri­ety.

“He was a pri­vate cit­i­zen at the time,” Sean Spicer, the White House press sec­re­tary, said. “And when you’re a pri­vate cit­i­zen, you’re al­lowed to en­gage in le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties. I don’t have any­thing fur­ther on that, but I think there’s noth­ing ne­far­i­ous about do­ing any­thing that’s le­gal as long as the proper pa­per­work is filed.”

Pence, how­ever, seemed less for­giv­ing.

“The first I heard of it,” the vice pres­i­dent said when asked about sto­ries on the mat­ter dur­ing an in­ter­view on Fox News on Thurs­day night, “and I think it is an af­fir­ma­tion of the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion to ask Gen­eral Flynn to re­sign.”

Democrats have raised con­cerns about Flynn’s pri­vate lob­by­ing since last fall, in­clud­ing his de­ci­sion to ac­cept a fee re­ported around $40,000 to at­tend and speak at a Moscow gala cel­e­bra­tion hon­or­ing RT, the Rus­sian govern­ment-fi­nanced, English-lan­guage tele­vi­sion net­work viewed in the West as a pro­pa­ganda or­gan.

“Lt. Gen. Flynn’s in­volve­ment in ad­vis­ing Mr. Trump on mat­ters re­lat­ing to Turkey or Rus­sia — in­clud­ing at­tend­ing clas­si­fied brief­ings on those mat­ters — could vi­o­late the Trump for Amer­ica, Inc. Code of Ethical Con­duct,” Rep. Eli­jah E. Cum­mings of Mary­land, the top Demo­crat on the House Over­sight and Govern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee, wrote Pence after the Novem­ber elec­tion.

For­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn

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