Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Michael Flynn Files as "Foreign Agent" For Work He Did During Election

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Garry Little | 11 March, 2017, 00:33

A lawyer for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn contacted an attorney for the Trump transition team about whether Flynn needed to register as a foreign agent before taking the role of national security adviser - from which he was later forced to resign, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today. "If the intention was to lobby the USA government, I would have hired Podesta Group like Fethullah Gulen", he said. It said the now-defunct Flynn Intel Group received $530,000 from Inovo BV from last August to mid-November.

Inovo, which was founded in 2005, is owned by Turkish businessman Kamil Ekim Alptekin, who has ties to Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and also now serves as chairman of the Turkish-American Business Council, a non-profit unit of Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board whose members are picked by that country's general assembly and economic minister. The question now becomes how much the White House knew about the work Flynn was doing, and whether his lobbying work might have colored any plans he would have had as national security adviser.

It was well known that on Election Day, Flynn authored an op-ed in the Hill, a Washington newspaper, in which he lambasted Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric residing in Pennsylvania who is blamed by the Turkish government for fomenting a July coup attempt there. The editorial did not disclose that Flynn's consulting firm had been retained by Alptekin's company.

Is this evidence of a president who's simply incurious about his staff's connections with foreign governments? He also allegedly lied about his secret communications with Kremlin and misled Vice President Mike Pence.

Turkey's ties to Inovo BV were first reported in November by the D.C. -based news site the Daily Caller.

According to the paperwork filed, Flynn's firm's work involved collecting information about cleric Fethellah Gulen and pressuring USA officials to take action against him.

Flynn Intel Group Inc. had disclosed to Congress its work for Inovo BV, but had not previously registered with the DOJ as working on behalf of a foreign government.

The agreement also called for hiring a filming and production crew for the objective of developing a short film on the results of FIG's work.

Additionally, evidence of Flynn's work on behalf of the Turkish government brings into question the degree to which the Trump transition team vetted their appointees. He also argued it was "not up for the government to determine" whether a private citizen (which Flynn was at the time) has to file a disclosure about specific activities.

This seems like a rather large oversight in the vetting process for a national security adviser, no?

SGR received payments from FIG previous year totaling approximately $30,000. Flynn had not, which left him open to possible criminal charges, so in his filings this week, he retroactively disclosed the work he did a year ago. Inovo didn't direct Flynn to write the article, but it did get a copy ahead of its publication, according to the filings.

His admission is the latest cloud of controversy to hang over the retired U.S. General, who was sacked as national security adviser less than four weeks into the job last month when it emerged he had misled Vice-President Mike Pence and other administration officials about his phone conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

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