US Defense Intelligence Agency Suspends Mike Flynn's Secret Clearance
03:24 16.02.2017(updated 05:00 16.02.2017) Get short URL114305
President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn has had his security clearance suspended while an investigation is conducted after he resigned from the post, US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) spokesman said.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump talks to members of the media as retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn stands next to him at Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., December 21, 2016
© REUTERS/ CARLOS BARRIA/FILE PHOTO
White House: Trump to Take Action Against Classified Leaks After Flynn Scandal
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Monday night, Flynn resigned as US national security adviser after media reported based on leaked information that he had misled Trump administration officials about the extent of his talks with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on the issue of anti-Russia sanctions.
Flynn did not concede any wrongdoing in his resignation letter, saying that he inadvertently briefed Vice President Mike Pence and others with incomplete information regarding his phone calls with the Russian ambassador.
"General Flynn's security clearance has been suspended pending review," the DIA spokesperson was quoted as saying by CNN on Wednesday.
The former National Security Adviser served as director of the DIA from 2012 to 2014, but was fired by former President Barack Obama for allegedly mismanaging the agency.
Flynn will likely be subjected to a 13-point adjudication process to determine, among other things, how the telephone conversations with Russian officials affected is allegiance to the United States and if he was displaying symptoms of foreign influence and foreign preference.
https://sputniknews.com/us/201702161050 ... uspension/
Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador
By Sari Horwitz and Adam Entous February 16 at 4:37 PM
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies, current and former U.S. officials said.
The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy, as lying to the FBI is a felony, but any decision to prosecute would ultimately lie with the Justice Department. Some officials said bringing a case could prove difficult in part because Flynn may attempt to parse the definition of sanctions.
A spokesman for Flynn said he had no response. The FBI declined to comment.
Flynn spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak following Trump’s election, and denied for weeks that the December conversation involved sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia in response to its meddling in the U.S. election. In a recent interview with the Daily Caller, Flynn said he didn’t discuss “sanctions” but did discuss the Obama administration’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, which were part of the sanctions package it announced on Dec. 29.
Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation Monday night following reports in The Washington Post that revealed Flynn had misled Vice President Pence in denying the substance of the call and that Justice Department officials had warned the White House that Flynn was a possible target of Russian blackmail, as a result.
Trump on Flynn firing: 'I asked for his resignation' Play Video2:27
President Trump said he asked for former national security adviser Michael Flynn's resignation on Feb. 13, but also defended him, saying, “what he did wasn't wrong," during a news conference on Feb. 16 at the White House. (Reuters)
Two days after the interview, acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates informed Donald McGahn, Trump’s White House counsel, about the contents of the intercepted phone call. Yates and other officials were concerned that Russia could use the mischaracterization of the call — which Pence had repeated on national television — to blackmail the national security adviser and did not think it was fair to keep Pence in the dark about the discrepancies, according to officials familiar with their thinking.
At a press conference on Thursday, Trump called Flynn a “fine person” and said he had done nothing wrong in engaging with the Russian envoy.
Senior Justice and intelligence officials who have reviewed the phone call thought Flynn’s statements to Kislyak were inappropriate, if not illegal, because he suggested that the Kremlin could expect a reprieve from the sanctions.
At the same time, officials knew that seeking to build a case against Flynn for violating an obscure 1799 statute known as the Logan Act — which bars private citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes — would be legally and political daunting.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/na ... 7b107c9aec
Pentagon: No records of Flynn's 2015 Russia trip
Chaffetz and Cummings question payments to Trump's ex-national security adviser.
By KYLE CHENEY 02/16/17 12:50 PM EST
The Pentagon has informed lawmakers that there are no records of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s 2015 trip to Moscow, when he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin and may have accepted unconstitutional payments from a foreign government for his attendance.
In a letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House oversight committee delivered Tuesday, acting Army Secretary Robert Speer confirmed that Flynn — a retired lieutenant general — filed no documentation of his trip.
In response, House oversight committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the committee, sent a letter that suggests Flynn may have inappropriately accepted payments from the Russian government or its agents in exchange for his attendance. Scrutiny is growing on Flynn’s trip and whether his payment violated the Constitution’s Emolument’s Clause, which prohibits any person holding an “office of profit or trust” in the federal government from accepting foreign payment. The prohibition has long been considered to apply for retired military officials.
The letter is addressed to Leading Authorities, the speaker’s bureau that Flynn has suggested coordinated his payment for the event. Chaffetz and Cummings ask for the company to turn over all documents pertaining to Flynn’s trip to Russia, as well as any sources of payment for his appearance. They also seek any documents about Flynn’s other appearances connected to Russia Today, the Kremlin-aligned news outlet with which he’s had a relationship.
Chaffetz’s decision to join the inquiry — initially made by Cummings on Feb. 1 — comes a day after he called for a probe of intelligence community leaks that have been damaging to the Trump White House.
He's so far resisted pressure from Democrats to investigate reports that Trump associates had routine contacts with Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Chaffetz has, however, pursued inquiries into whether Trump is in violation of his lease of the Old Post Office Building, which houses his D.C. hotel, and whether senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway violated ethics laws to hawk Ivanka Trump’s apparel line in a TV appearance from the White House.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/p ... sit-235090
The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies
February 14 2017, 12:31 p.m.
PRESIDENT TRUMP’S NATIONAL security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was forced to resign on Monday night as a result of getting caught lying about whether he discussed sanctions in a December telephone call with a Russian diplomat. The only reason the public learned about Flynn’s lie is because someone inside the U.S. government violated the criminal law by leaking the contents of Flynn’s intercepted communications.
In the spectrum of crimes involving the leaking of classified information, publicly revealing the contents of SIGINT — signals intelligence — is one of the most serious felonies. Journalists (and all other nongovernmental citizens) can be prosecuted under federal law for disclosing classified information only under the narrowest circumstances; reflecting how serious SIGINT is considered to be, one of those circumstances includes leaking the contents of intercepted communications, as defined this way by 18 § 798 of the U.S. Code:
Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates … or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes … any classified information … obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
That Flynn lied about what he said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was first revealed by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who has built his career on repeating what his CIA sources tell him. In his January 12 column, Ignatius wrote: “According to a senior U.S. government official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking.”
That “senior U.S. government official” committed a serious felony by leaking to Ignatius the communication activities of Flynn. Similar and even more extreme crimes were committed by what the Washington Post called “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls,” who told the paper for its February 9 article that “Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials.” The New York Times, also citing anonymous U.S. officials, provided even more details about the contents of Flynn’s telephone calls.
That all of these officials committed major crimes can hardly be disputed. In January, CNN reported that Flynn’s calls with the Russians “were captured by routine U.S. eavesdropping targeting the Russian diplomats.” That means that the contents of those calls were “obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of [a] foreign government,” which in turn means that anyone who discloses them — or reports them to the public — is guilty of a felony under the statute.
Yet very few people are calling for a criminal investigation or the prosecution of these leakers, nor demanding the leakers step forward and “face the music” — for very good reason: The officials leaking this information acted justifiably, despite the fact that they violated the law. That’s because the leaks revealed that a high government official, Gen. Flynn, blatantly lied to the public about a material matter — his conversations with Russian diplomats — and the public has the absolute right to know this.
This episode underscores a critical point: The mere fact that an act is illegal does not mean it is unjust or even deserving of punishment. Oftentimes, the most just acts are precisely the ones that the law prohibits.
That’s particularly true of whistleblowers — i.e., those who reveal information the law makes it a crime to reveal, when doing so is the only way to demonstrate to the public that powerful officials are acting wrongfully or deceitfully. In those cases, we should cheer those who do it even though they are undertaking exactly those actions that the criminal law prohibits.
This Flynn episode underscores another critical point: The motives of leakers are irrelevant. It’s very possible — indeed, likely — that the leakers here were not acting with benevolent motives. Nobody with a straight face can claim that lying to the public is regarded in official Washington as some sort of mortal sin; if anything, the contrary is true: It’s seen as a job requirement.
Moreover, Gen. Flynn has many enemies throughout the intelligence and defense community. The same is true, of course, of Donald Trump; recall that just a few weeks ago, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer warned Trump that he was being “really dumb” to criticize the intelligence community because “they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
It’s very possible — I’d say likely — that the motive here was vindictive rather than noble. Whatever else is true, this is a case where the intelligence community, through strategic (and illegal) leaks, destroyed one of its primary adversaries in the Trump White House.
But no matter. What matters is not the motive of the leaker but the effects of the leak. Any leak that results in the exposure of high-level wrongdoing — as this one did — should be praised, not scorned and punished.
https://theintercept.com/2017/02/14/the ... -felonies/
Michael Flynn’s Mess
The disgraced national security adviser has left Trump’s White House in turmoil.
By Fred Kaplan
Michael Flynn looks at President-elect Donald Trump as he talks with the media at Mar-a-Lago in Florida on Dec. 21.
So Michael Flynn is gone from a job that he should never have had in the first place. The question now is whether his departure marks the final gasp of a political scandal or just the beginning of a crisis that could conceivably oust Donald Trump from power.
As we now know, in late January, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the White House counsel that Flynn’s phone calls with Russian officials were of such a nature that he had opened himself up to blackmail. Yates and the Justice Department’s investigators had discovered, from intercepts of those phone calls, that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions policy—essentially telling them not to react to President Obama’s economic penalties against Russia, or to his expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s manipulation of the election, because Trump would reverse the measures after he took office.
This we know. But what if Trump knew the subject of Flynn’s conversations at the time? What if he had authorized Flynn to discuss sanctions relief or had been otherwise complicit in the arrangement? Then Trump himself would be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. This has been the underlying concern in the various probes of Trump’s possible financial ties to Russia. It was the essence of the “dossier” assembled by the British ex-spy Christopher Steele, detailing the kompromat—the term in Russian intelligence circles for compromising material—that the Kremlin allegedly had on Trump.
The probes of Trump’s financial ties have not panned out. Steele’s dossier is as yet unverified, though U.S. law-enforcement agents are finding it increasingly plausible, as many of the meetings it recounts—the names, dates, and places—match the real records. Flynn’s fate—the revelation that he had discussed sanctions policy with Russian officials, that he lied about it to Vice President Mike Pence and others, and that Trump did nothing about this for weeks after the acting attorney general warned him to beware—greatly boosts the odds that more investigations will take place, whether by the FBI, various counterintelligence agencies, Congress, or all of the above.
If there’s more to be discovered, it is now more likely than before that it will be discovered. If Flynn’s scandal sticks to Trump, or if it turns out that Flynn was acting at Trump’s instigation all along, and if Trump’s motives seem to resemble what the dossier suggests, then Trump is in trouble. Congressional Republicans and their base have managed to overlook, reinterpret, or dismiss Trump’s many lies, evasions, and acts of carelessness in the brief span of his presidency so far. But one thing that they might not be able to ignore, the thing that might go a bridge too far for all but the most diehard of his supporters, would be clear evidence that the president of the United States is secretly beholden to a foreign power.
Whether or not this scenario comes to pass, Trump’s White House, chaotic from the outset, is currently in turmoil. In Flynn’s wake, the president’s foreign policy apparatus, which has been spinning in several directions, is rudderless, and his already severe isolation is intensified.
Flynn was the ultimate loyalist, a retired three-star general who abandoned the officers’ apolitical creed to join the Trump campaign in full lather, to the point of retweeting the craziest anti-Clinton conspiracy screeds and screaming at the Republican National Convention, “Lock her up! Damn right!” Through the election, the transition, and the first few weeks of Trump’s presidency, Flynn was a constant presence, one of the few fully trusted insiders, the only confidant whose sole portfolio was national security, and Trump seemed to rely on him for more than that. According to the Huffington Post, Trump once phoned Flynn, of all people, at 3 a.m. to ask whether a strong dollar was good or bad for the economy. (Flynn didn’t know, and why should he?)
Tensions were already emerging between Flynn and Trump’s secretary of defense, retired four-star Gen. James Mattis. Many in the foreign policy community, and in Congress, had put huge hopes on Mattis as a counterweight to Flynn’s influence. The hopes have so far borne fruit as Mattis convinced Trump to back away from a draft executive order—which Mattis learned about from a newspaper report—that would have reopened CIA black sites for detainees and reconsidered the ban on torture. Flynn was the main force behind the order; Mattis was on record as firmly opposing the idea.
What happens now? Retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg, the National Security Council’s chief of staff, has taken over as acting national security adviser. Kellogg is a veteran of the Vietnam and Gulf wars with experience at staff jobs in the Pentagon and the White House. And he was listed as a foreign policy adviser to Trump during the campaign, though they aren’t seen as having a close relationship.
Kellogg is reportedly one of the names on a shortlist of replacements for Flynn. But the most intriguing, even provocative name is Gen. David Petraeus, who is said to be meeting with Trump this week. Petraeus, of course, comes with baggage. In 2013, he resigned as CIA director after it was revealed he was having an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The following year, he was charged with sharing classified material with her and for making false statements to the FBI. (He pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges, was fined $100,000, and is still on probation.) The national security adviser does not have to undergo Senate confirmation, but given concerns about the mishandling of classified information by Flynn, Hillary Clinton, and Trump himself after his high-profile briefing about North Korea’s missile test in the middle of the Mar-a-Lago dining room, this may weigh against his chances.
Then again, Petraeus is widely admired in the foreign policy community, whose denizens are increasingly disturbed by Trump’s judgment and competence. Petraeus may be a route to relief. He has actually participated, alongside Cabinet secretaries, as a member of the NSC Principals Committee. He has global experience in national security policy and has a strategic mindset.
But this experience may end up a debit. Petraeus is a consummate operator, and, despite his discrediting in some circles, he still has connections throughout the national-security bureaucracy. When President Obama was considering Petraeus as possible chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House aides advised against it, seeing him as too independent, too politically savvy, and too invested in his own agenda. Trump’s advisers may have the same concerns. Especially in this administration, where the president and his inner circle know little about foreign policy, and where so many senior positions are still unfilled in the State and Defense Departments, Petraeus could run the show—manipulating Trump far more than the other way around. Finally, Petraeus was on good terms with Hillary Clinton, even sitting in on a campaign advisory council. Though he never endorsed her, this could be the crucial blow against him in Trump’s eyes.
In that sense, a possible compromise candidate—and another name on the list—is Vice Adm. Robert Harward, a former Navy SEAL who has served as director of defense issues on the NSC staff, as the Joint Chiefs’ representative at the National Counterterrorism Center, and as deputy commanding general of U.S. Central Command. This last post may be most significant of all as the commanding general at the time was Mattis, and the two got along well. If Trump relies on Mattis’ recommendation, Flynn’s replacement may well be Harward.
But who knows? Newspapers have printed supposed shortlists for various top slots in the Trump administration, and sometimes they’ve turned out to be false. Remember when the secretary of state was going to be Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, or John Bolton?
So how about this as a wild card for Flynn’s replacement? Robert Gates—former secretary of defense, CIA director, and deputy national security adviser: respected in all corners.
Trump asked Gates for advice on nominating a secretary of state—and he took it, naming Rex Tillerson, whom he’d never met before. Gates probably doesn’t want the job. He loathes much about Washington: His tell-all memoir, Duty, was so brutal about so many people, it amounted to a plea and a warning to future presidents not to give him a job in the capital again. And yet a close acquaintance of Gates’ told me in a phone conversation Tuesday that he could see Gates taking the job if Trump offered it. “Being asked to serve the country by presidents is his Kryptonite,” the acquaintance said. “It’s the one thing he is helpless against.”
Whoever replaces Flynn, his biggest challenge won’t merely be to stabilize the USS Trump in stormy waters but to keep the whole ship from capsizing.
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_ ... rmoil.html
Trump: Media Is 'Enemy of the American People'
Rant wins praise from Beijing
http://www.newser.com/story/238546/trum ... eople.html
FEBRUARY 27, 2017 ISSUE
MICHAEL FLYNN, GENERAL CHAOS
What the removal of Flynn as the national-security adviser reveals about Donald Trump’s White House.
By Nicholas Schmidle
“I like to think that I helped get Donald Trump elected President,” Flynn said. “Maybe I helped a little, maybe a lot.”
ILLUSTRATION BY BOB STAAKE
Two days before the Inauguration of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth President of the United States, Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and former intelligence officer, sat down in a Washington restaurant. On the tablecloth, he placed a leather-bound folder and two phones, which flashed with text messages and incoming calls. A gaunt, stern-looking man with hooded eyes and a Roman nose, Flynn is sharp in both manner and language. He had been one of Trump’s earliest supporters, a vociferous booster on television, on Twitter, and, most memorably, from the stage of the Republican National Convention. Strident views and a penchant for conspiracy theories often embroiled him in controversy—in a hacked e-mail from last summer, former Secretary of State Colin Powell called him “right-wing nutty”—but Trump rewarded Flynn’s loyalty by making him his national-security adviser. Now, after months of unrelenting scrutiny, Flynn seemed to believe that he could find a measure of obscurity in the West Wing, steps away from Trump and the Oval Office. “I want to go back to having an out-of-sight role,” he told me.
That ambition proved illusory. Three weeks into his job, the Washington Post revealed that Flynn, while he was still a private citizen and Barack Obama was still President, had discussed American sanctions against Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador in Washington. The conversations were possibly illegal. Flynn and Kislyak’s communications, by phone and text, occurred on the same day the Obama Administration announced the expulsion of thirty-five Russian diplomats in retaliation for Russia’s efforts to swing the election in Trump’s favor. Flynn had previously denied talking about sanctions with the Ambassador. At the restaurant, he said that he didn’t think there was anything untoward about the call: “I’ve had a relationship with him since my days at the D.I.A.”—the Defense Intelligence Agency, which Flynn directed from 2012 to 2014. But, in a classic Washington spectacle of action followed by coverup followed by collapse, Flynn soon started backpedalling, saying, through a spokesman, that he “couldn’t be certain that the topic [of sanctions] never came up.”
He compounded his predicament by making the same denial to Vice-President Mike Pence, who repeated it on television. Flynn later apologized to Pence. But by then his transgressions had been made public. In a White House characterized by chaos and conflict—a Byzantine court led by a reality-television star, family members, and a circle of ideologues and loyalists—Flynn was finished.
The episode created countless concerns, about the President’s truthfulness, competence, temperament, and associations. How much did Trump know and when did he know it?
John McCain, a Republican and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the fiasco was a “troubling indication of the dysfunction of the current national-security apparatus” and raised “further questions” about the Trump Administration’s intentions regarding Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
In one of several recent conversations, Flynn told me, “We have to figure out how to work with Russia instead of making it an enemy. We have so many problems that we were handed on a plate from this President”—meaning Obama. He lifted a bread plate and waved it. He characterized the negative attention on him as part of a larger conspiracy against Trump. “I’m a target to get at Trump to delegitimize the election,” he said. The press had him “damn near all wrong.” Reporters were just chasing after wild theories, while neglecting to consider his career as a decorated Army officer. “You don’t just sprinkle magic dust on someone, and, poof, they become a three-star general,” he said.
But, even before Flynn’s rapid fall, his closest military colleagues had been struggling to make sense of what had happened to the talented and grounded general they once knew. “Mike is inarguably one of the finest leaders the Army has ever produced,” James (Spider) Marks, a retired major general, told me. And yet, watching the first night of the Republican National Convention, last July, Marks was taken aback when his old friend appeared onscreen.
“Wake up, America!” Flynn said, his jaw set and his hands gripping the sides of the lectern. The United States was in peril: “Our very existence is threatened.” The moment demanded a President with “guts,” he declared, not a “weak, spineless” one who “believes she is above the law.”
In the early two-thousands, Marks was Flynn’s commanding officer at the Army’s intelligence academy, in Fort Huachuca, Arizona; one of his daughters went to school with one of Flynn’s sons. Marks regarded Flynn as “smart, humble, and funny.” What he saw on TV was something else: “That’s a vitriolic side of Mike that I never knew.”
When, twenty minutes into the speech, Flynn mentioned Hillary Clinton, the Convention audience responded with chants of “Lock her up!” Flynn nodded, leading the chant: “That’s right—lock her up.” He went on, “Damn right. . . . And you know why we’re saying that? We’re saying that because, if I, a guy who knows this business, if I did a tenth—a tenth—of what she did, I would be in jail today.”
Marks’s thirty-five-year-old daughter, who was watching with him, turned to her father and said, “Dad, General Flynn is scaring me.”
Trump, in his inaugural address, presented a dire image of the country—a nation suffering from poverty and blight, overextended abroad, and neglectful of its own citizens. He pledged to end the “carnage” by putting “America first”—echoing the isolationist creed of the nineteen-thirties.
The beginning of Trump’s Presidency remained true to his campaign: even when it came to the highly sensitive issues of national security, Trump and his aides acted with ideological ferocity and a heedless sense of procedure that alarmed many inside the government. The Trump Administration’s early days have invited comparison to the most unnerving political moments in memory, particularly Richard Nixon’s behavior during the Watergate scandal.
On January 27th, a week after taking office, Trump issued an executive order suspending all refugee admissions and temporarily banning entry to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. His chief political strategist, Stephen Bannon, reportedly oversaw the crafting of the order, along with Stephen Miller, the White House’s senior policy adviser. (Miller disputes this.) Flynn raised some concerns about how the order might affect relationships with allies, but those were ignored. James Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, and General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, received little notice of the order.
The next day, Trump signed another executive order, reorganizing the National Security Council. He promoted Bannon, a former investment banker and chairman of the far-right Web site Breitbart News, to a permanent seat on the “principals committee.” Elevating a political adviser to national-security policymaking marked a radical departure from the practice of recent Administrations.
By this point, the Justice Department had informed Trump officials of concerns about Flynn’s conversations with the Russian Ambassador and his public accounting of them. The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama Administration, told the White House that she worried Flynn might be vulnerable to blackmail by Russian agents, the Washington Post reported. Yet Flynn remained an important player in national-security matters. “He was always in the room, and on every call,” one Administration official told me.
Each morning, Flynn attended Trump’s intelligence briefing—the President’s Daily Brief. Bannon joined occasionally, as did Mike Pompeo, the director of the C.I.A., and Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff. Flynn conferred with senior intelligence officials on how to best tailor the briefing for Trump. Presidents are particular about how they receive information, Michael Morell, a former acting C.I.A. director, who prepared and delivered the President’s Daily Brief to several Presidents, told me. George H. W. Bush preferred text on a half page, in a single column, limited to four or five pages; the briefer read fifteen to twenty pages aloud to George W. Bush, who preferred more material and liked to discuss it with the briefer; Barack Obama studied the material alone, over breakfast. Trump’s briefings were being shaped to address macroeconomics, trade, and “alliances,” Flynn told me, in a telephone conversation earlier this month. “The P.D.B. is not always about just your enemies.”
Congress created the National Security Council in 1947, in the hope of establishing a more orderly process for coördinating foreign and defense policy. Six years later, Dwight Eisenhower decided that the council needed a chief and named the first national-security adviser—a former soldier and banker, Robert Cutler. The position evolved into one of enormous importance. McGeorge Bundy, who served under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, regarded himself as a “traffic cop”—controlling access to the President. Under Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger dramatically expanded the role, often meeting directly with the Soviet Ambassador, and bypassing the State Department.
The temptations of power nearly overwhelmed Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, in what became known as the Iran-Contra affair, when national-security staffers were discovered to be running covert actions involving Iran and Central America. The scandal prompted some to call for the national-security adviser to become a Senate-confirmed position. Heading off these demands, George H. W. Bush chose a retired general, Brent Scowcroft, who had held the job under Gerald Ford, to return to the role, confident that Scowcroft would respect the lines between intelligence work, military operations, and policymaking. “He will be an honest broker,” Bush said.
Since then, according to Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush’s second-term national-security adviser, the “honest broker” has become the model for Republican and Democratic Administrations alike. That meant overseeing a process that is “fair and transparent, where each member of the council can get his views to the President,” Hadley said. In late November, Hadley met with Flynn, who was seeking advice, at Trump Tower. Hadley left the meeting optimistic that Flynn meant to act as a facilitator in the traditional way.
But Flynn’s challenge—and now, potentially, his successor’s—was unique, as Bannon had seemingly moved to set up a kind of “parallel, shadow” national-security staff for his own purposes, one council staffer told me. Bannon, who had no direct experience in policymaking, seized a central role on issues dear to Trump. For example, during the campaign Trump had railed against nato members for not paying their full freight, which unnerved diplomats and politicians throughout Europe. On February 5th, according to the staffer, Bannon sent questions to the N.S.C. staff, requesting a breakdown of contributions to nato from individual members since 1949. Many of the rank-and-file staffers were alarmed, not just because the questions seemed designed to impugn nato’s legitimacy but because they represented a breach of protocol by tasking N.S.C. staffers with political duties. “Those were Flynn’s people, not political operatives,” the staffer said.
Flynn came into the White House wanting to streamline the bureaucracy of the N.S.C., which is staffed mostly by career civil servants from the State Department, the Pentagon, and intelligence agencies, believing that it moved too ponderously under Obama. But Flynn, in a contest for power with Bannon, soon seemed to realize that the traditional setup could help him build influence in the White House. “It was dawning on him that the process privileged him,” the N.S.C. staffer said. Others in the White House treated the customary protocols as impediments. “We are moving big and we are moving fast,” Bannon said, according to the Times.
Before Flynn’s troubles mounted, I asked him whether it was appropriate for Bannon to have a permanent seat on the N.S.C. He paused. “Well, I mean, that decision’s been made,” he said. Besides, didn’t other political advisers enjoy similar access? He brought up Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama. Jarrett did not have a seat on the National Security Council, I said. “She didn’t? How about, like, Axelrod? He was Clinton, right?” (David Axelrod, who was Obama’s chief strategist, sometimes sat in on N.S.C. meetings but did not participate in policymaking discussions.) Look, Flynn said, “the President shapes the team that he needs to be able to do the job that he has to do. So that’s kind of where we are on that one.”
Flynn grew up in a large Irish-American household, in Middletown, Rhode Island. He was one of nine children. His father was a soldier, a veteran of the Second World War and Korea, who retired as a sergeant first class in the Army; his mother, a high-school valedictorian, worked at a secretarial school and was heavily involved in Democratic politics, before going back to school to get undergraduate and law degrees. A headstrong teen-ager, Flynn skateboarded in drained swimming pools and surfed through hurricanes and winter storms. “Mike was a charger,” Sid Abruzzi, a surf-shop owner in nearby Newport, who knew Flynn as a teen-ager, said.
In 1981, after graduating from the University of Rhode Island, Flynn joined the Army. He qualified as an intelligence officer, and got orders to join the 82nd Airborne Division, a paratrooper unit in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1983, Flynn deployed to Grenada, as part of the American invasion force. He set up a listening post on a cliffside to intercept Cuban radio transmissions. One day, spotting two American soldiers being swept out to sea, Flynn leaped off the cliff—“about a forty-foot jump into the swirling waters,” he recalls, in his book, “The Field of Fight”—and rescued the men.
He won a rapid series of promotions. In 1994, he helped plan operations in support of the American invasion of Haiti. After that, he rotated to Fort Polk, Louisiana, the site of an Army base for urban-combat and special-operations training. In 2004, he deployed to Iraq with the Joint Special Operations Command, an élite counterterrorism unit composed of operators from the Delta Force, Rangers, seal Team Six, and others. Its culture is unusual in the military: rank is respected but not revered; sergeants challenge colonels, and colonels challenge generals. Flynn, then a colonel, in charge of the command’s intelligence collection and analysis, had ambitions for expanding the reach of special operations. He considered the command’s operators expert killers—“the best spear fishermen in the world.” But, in order to quell the insurgency spreading in Iraq, they would have to become “net fishermen,” taking down terrorist networks, he said, in a 2015 interview.
Flynn encouraged his men to think more like detectives as they hunted Al Qaeda militants; he brought F.B.I. agents in to instruct operators in how to collect and preserve evidence. A former Ranger recalled storming a house, flex-cuffing the tenants, then staying for several hours, risking exposure, while he and his teammates searched behind walls and under mattresses for a single thumb drive—which they found, eventually, in a pipe beneath the kitchen sink. Intelligence operatives would gather information by hacking militants’ computers, intercepting their phone calls, and surveilling them with drones. “We were able to mass so much information against individuals we captured that at some point they realized it was no use lying to us anymore,” Flynn says, in “Twilight Warriors: The Soldiers, Spies, and Special Agents Who Are Revolutionizing the American Way of War,” by James Kitfield.
On the afternoon of April 8, 2006, American soldiers helicoptered into Yusufiyah, a town outside Baghdad. They raided a suspected Al Qaeda safe house and detained twelve middle-aged men, who were taken to Balad Air Base, the site of the command’s Iraq headquarters, for questioning. Flynn observed some of the interviews. Over weeks of interrogation, the prisoners repeatedly denied knowing anything about Al Qaeda or its leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Finally, two interrogators confronted one of the prisoners about a trip to Amman, Jordan, just before the devastating hotel bombings the previous year. The prisoner started talking, and divulged the identity of Zarqawi’s spiritual adviser and where to find him. Drones tracked the adviser for weeks. One day, the man came out of his house and got into a silver sedan. After two vehicle switches, he pulled into a compound in Hibhib, thirty miles north of Baghdad. A few minutes after the adviser arrived, another man emerged briefly from the house. He matched the description of Zarqawi.
As Flynn and his boss, General Stanley McChrystal, jsoc’s commander, watched on a video feed, an F-16 dropped two bombs on the house. A Delta Force squad quickly arrived at the scene and seized Zarqawi, who died soon afterward. Back at Balad, Flynn and McChrystal inspected the corpse, laid out on a tarp, confirming that it was Zarqawi.
In 2008, Flynn got a new assignment, at the Pentagon, as the senior intelligence officer reporting to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was an awkward fit. Flynn, now a major general, was unfamiliar with ordinary Pentagon decorum and sometimes struggled to summon the diplomacy required for the job. Intelligence officers are often irascible figures. “We are trained to be contrarians,” Marks, the retired major general, who was the senior intelligence officer during the invasion of Iraq, said. “I’m the only guy in the room who gets paid to tell you that you’re not as handsome or as smart as you think you are. I’m the one who looks the boss in the eye and says, ‘Your plan is all fucked up.’ ”
In November, 2008, Obama won the Presidency, having pledged to draw down troops in Iraq and shift military resources back to Afghanistan. He chose McChrystal to lead American forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal asked his friend Flynn to become his director of intelligence. Their collaboration in Iraq had severely crippled Al Qaeda. In Afghanistan, though, the terrain was less familiar, and their mission quite different, with a much greater emphasis on winning “hearts and minds.” Still, Flynn was thrilled to be heading to the battlefield again. According to a friend, when she asked Flynn whether he’d regret missing an almost certain promotion in Washington, he replied, “Are you kidding me? I get to go back to the shit with Stan.”
He landed in Afghanistan in June, 2009. His office was a windowless converted shipping container, and during long days he took briefings and pored over classified assessments. Flynn often ate his meals in the chow hall and chatted with subordinates. “I have no recollection of any other general officers doing that,” Toni Gidwani, an intelligence analyst who worked with Flynn in Afghanistan, told me. Flynn was intense, but he was also funny and “called bullshit when he saw it,” according to Vikram Singh, who is now at the Center for American Progress, and at the time was advising Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s chief envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Flynn’s directives, however, could at times be difficult to follow. His talent for absorbing information could race ahead of his analytical abilities. “He is not a linear thinker,” an intelligence analyst who served on multiple assignments with Flynn said. Stephen Biddle, a defense-policy fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recounted late-night meetings in Flynn’s container: “His ideas and assessments kept moving around.” Max Boot, a civilian adviser in Afghanistan at the time, told me that Flynn got “jerked around by the data”—he would contend that the Taliban were nearly defeated and then, with no less conviction, argue that the militant group was stronger than ever.
Part of the challenge was the shortage of reliable intelligence in Afghanistan. Flynn considered some of the C.I.A.’s activities counterproductive. When Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai and a suspected drug trafficker, was revealed as a longtime C.I.A. asset, Flynn voiced his displeasure with the agency, telling the Times, “If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves.”
Flynn dispatched a Marine Corps first lieutenant to travel around the country interviewing marines, soldiers, and civilian partners about their intelligence needs. The lieutenant, Matthew Pottinger, had been a Beijing correspondent for the Wall Street Journal before enlisting as an intelligence officer in the Marines. Throughout the autumn of 2009, Pottinger crisscrossed the country. What he heard was dispiriting. An operations officer told him that his knowledge of what was happening in villages was “no more than fingernail deep.” The Americans were ignorant of local power brokers, religious practices, and economics. Pottinger, Flynn, and a senior official from the Defense Intelligence Agency compiled their observations, along with recommendations for changes, into a damning report.
In late December, Flynn e-mailed the report to dozens of colleagues at the Pentagon, the White House, and the C.I.A. The response was underwhelming; most didn’t even bother to reply. Pottinger suggested finding a publisher outside the government, and Flynn agreed. On January 4, 2010, the Center for a New American Security, a progressive think tank, released “Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan.” Reviews outside the military were laudatory, but senior Pentagon and C.I.A. officials were angered by Flynn’s decision to go public. “I was very concerned about an intelligence officer openly criticizing our intelligence community,” former C.I.A. director Leon Panetta told me. Flynn and Pottinger understood that they might be fired.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered a judgment of the report that saved them. He called it “exactly the type of candid, critical self-assessment” that the military needed. “Fixing Intel” consolidated Flynn’s exalted status in the intelligence community. In 2012, Defense News ranked him seventeenth on its “100 Most Influential” list, heralding the report as something that “might have ended his career” but which, instead, “accelerated it.”
Three months after “Fixing Intel” was published, McChrystal and some members of his staff flew to Paris to strengthen support for the war among French officials. Flynn stayed behind in Afghanistan. A Rolling Stone reporter who had been spending time with McChrystal joined him on the trip and heard him and his staff speaking derisively about the political leadership in Washington, and witnessed them getting drunk one night at an Irish pub.
In mid-June, 2010, the magazine piece, “The Runaway General,” appeared. McChrystal was quoted calling Vice-President Joe Biden “shortsighted” for his opposition to the surge in Afghanistan; one aide mocked Biden as “Bite Me”; and another aide dismissed Jim Jones, Obama’s first national-security adviser, as a “clown.” Obama fired McChrystal the day after publication. Flynn chafed at the decision. “It’s hard to see someone you know have to go through that,” a close associate of Flynn’s told me. “You don’t heal from that overnight.”
Flynn prepared to leave Afghanistan, as McChrystal’s successor, David Petraeus, brought in his own staff. Before Flynn departed, he stopped by the Joint Intelligence Operations Center to say goodbye. Speaking to dozens of analysts, Flynn delivered a forty-five-minute lesson, covering some of the bloodiest engagements in American history: the Battle of Antietam, in 1862, when twenty-three thousand people were killed or wounded in a single day; Operation Torch, in 1942, when several hundred soldiers died establishing beachheads in North Africa as part of the Allied invasion. “His point was that no one in Washington can ever appreciate what is happening on the battlefield, and that there aren’t as many Americans dying now as before,” the intelligence analyst who worked with Flynn said. “But it was confusing, and these would be the same kind of discussions you’d have with him about the nature of the insurgency—you’d leave his office and spend an hour trying to figure out what he was trying to say.”
Back in Washington, Flynn was assigned to the office of James Clapper, the director of national intelligence. Flynn’s success in Iraq and Afghanistan made him popular in foreign-policy circles. In April, 2011, he attended a luncheon at the Army and Navy Club, a members-only hotel and restaurant two blocks from the White House. About two dozen guests sat in a private room, around a long table. Iran was a major focus of the conversation, according to one of the event’s hosts, Mary Beth Long, a former C.I.A. case officer and a senior Pentagon official during the George W. Bush Administration.
The attendees included a neoconservative historian named Michael Ledeen, who was then a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. Ledeen had been obsessed with Iran for decades. In the mid-eighties, as a consultant to Reagan’s National Security Council, he played a central role in the Iran-Contra affair—introducing Oliver North, Reagan’s counterterrorism adviser, to Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms dealer. Ledeen’s hope had been to stir up dissent inside Iran through Ghorbanifar’s network of influential contacts, according to the Presidential commission that investigated the affair. (Ledeen disputes this.) Instead, Ghorbanifar wound up as the middleman in the sale of weapons to Iran, in exchange for Tehran’s assistance in freeing American hostages held by Iranian-backed Islamists in Lebanon. But Ledeen’s zeal for regime change in Iran remained undiminished. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he called for American forces to press on, into Iran. “As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘America is too great a country to settle for small dreams,’ ” he wrote, in 2002. Iraq was a distraction; Iran was “the real war.”
Flynn, too, increasingly viewed Iran as a great menace. In Iraq, he had seen scores of young Americans killed by sophisticated armor-piercing explosives, supplied to Shiite militias by the Quds Force, an élite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Flynn and Ledeen became close friends; in their shared view of the world, Ledeen supplied an intellectual and historical perspective, Flynn a tactical one. “I’ve spent my professional life studying evil,” Ledeen told me. Flynn said, in a recent speech, “I’ve sat down with really, really evil people”—he cited Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Russians, Chinese generals—“and all I want to do is punch the guy in the nose.”
A month after the luncheon, a team of Navy seals raided a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden. Flynn was critical of the limitations placed on intelligence work after the raid. Analysts had spent several weeks going through the hard drives and phones seized in the raid looking for “targeting data”—clues on the whereabouts of other terrorists—and leads on imminent threats. But Flynn and others advocated going deeper, with the hope of learning more about Al Qaeda’s finances and backers and organizational structure. A team returned to the materials and uncovered documents that seemed to point to a closer relationship between Al Qaeda and Iran than was previously understood. In one memorandum, a lieutenant asks bin Laden for permission to send an associate planning attacks in Europe into Iran for “around three months” to “train the brothers.” Flynn saw such references as evidence of Iran’s duplicity, in supporting Shiite and Sunni extremists alike. It seemed validation of Ledeen’s views on Iran. (Others in the intelligence community, including Panetta, the C.I.A. director at the time of the raid, were dubious about a close relationship between Al Qaeda and Iran.)
James Mattis, the Marine general in charge of U.S. Central Command, whose responsibilities included the Middle East and Central Asia, had been pushing for more aggressive action against Iran. In the summer of 2011, Mattis, who is now the Secretary of Defense, wanted to launch a rocket assault on an Iranian power plant in retaliation for the killing of six American soldiers by Iranian rockets in Baghdad. But the Obama Administration was hoping to get out of the Middle East, not risk starting another war there. Flynn felt that the Administration was being naïve, and that no one seemed to care about what he insisted was the collusion between Al Qaeda and Iran. “He was incensed,” an analyst who worked with Flynn at the time said. “He saw this as truth suppression.”
In April, 2012, Obama nominated Flynn to be the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Within the intelligence community, the agency was considered a backwater. “It’s the bastard child,” Mary Beth Long, the former C.I.A. officer, said. The agency, whose headquarters are in southwest Washington, produced reports on topics like Middle Eastern weapons deals, changes of command in China, and troop movements on the Korean peninsula—essential work for assessing foreign military capabilities but hardly exciting.
To invigorate the D.I.A., Flynn wanted to break down the barriers between collectors and analysts; enhance the stable of clandestine case officers who operated overseas, like their C.I.A. counterparts; and reorganize the agency on the basis of geography. The goal was to transform the D.I.A. into a more agile organization.
Flynn’s ideas were informed by his experience in helping to overhaul jsoc. But it was unclear whether they would work at the D.I.A., with seventeen thousand employees. “jsoc has a small, tight-knit group of folks making real-time tactical decisions that must be executed tonight,” a senior military intelligence official told me. “A big organization like the D.I.A. just can’t respond that quickly.”
Peter Shelby, a retired marine and former D.I.A. official, told me he assumed that Flynn would be methodical in his approach: spend a few months at headquarters; learn how the organization worked; cultivate respected agency veterans; and then introduce changes. Instead, Shelby said, “Flynn came in and threw a bomb to explode the whole place, and then just let the dust settle.”
Employees started to complain. Many sought reassignment with other agencies. “Morale was in the toilet,” Shelby said. “To higher-level observers, Flynn looked like this bold leader, willing to make changes in the face of opposition. But, the further down you went, the more negative impact there was, because it was complete chaos.”
Moreover, Flynn could be sloppy with numbers and details—misstatements that his staffers derided as “Flynn facts.” His habit of chasing hunches also exasperated some staff members. In September, 2012, after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate and annex in Benghazi, Flynn urged an investigation into an Iran connection; his insistence that Iran was involved “stunned” subordinates, according to the Times. (Flynn denies that he asked for a probe.) An intelligence analyst who worked with Flynn during this period told me that his iconoclasm sometimes went too far. “By nature, Flynn takes a contrarian approach to even the most simple analytic issues,” the analyst said. “After Benghazi, I remember him using the phrase ‘black swan’ a lot. What’s a ‘black swan’? He was looking for the random event that nobody could predict. Look, you certainly have to keep your eye on the ball for that, but there’s a reason why it’s a black swan. You shouldn’t dedicate a ton of time to that.”
In 2013, Flynn arranged a trip to Moscow to speak to a group of officers from the G.R.U., Russia’s intelligence agency, about leadership development. His decision to go was a controversial one. Flynn believed that there were opportunities to find common ground with Russia. But Steven Hall, the C.I.A.’s chief of Russia operations at the time, was skeptical. “He wanted to build a relationship with his counterparts in the G.R.U., which seemed, at best, quaint and naïve,” Hall told me. “Every time we have tried to have some sort of meaningful coöperation with the Russians, it’s almost always been manipulated and turned back against us.”
Several months after Flynn returned from his Moscow trip, he hoped to reciprocate by inviting several senior G.R.U. officers to the United States. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, cautioned him against it. Russia had recently annexed Crimea, and Russian special-forces operatives were fomenting a violent clash between rebels and Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine.
By then, Flynn had become a target of scorn for many inside the department. His deputy, David Shedd, became one of his harshest critics, and did little to hide his disdain. “I was walking by the front office once and heard David Shedd say, ‘I’m going to save the agency from the director,’ ” Simone Ledeen, who works in counter-threat finance at a multinational bank, said. Ledeen had worked for Flynn in Afghanistan, at the office for the director of national intelligence, and in the D.I.A., doing threat-assessment research. (She is also Michael Ledeen’s daughter.)
Normally, a D.I.A. director serves for three or more years, but, in late 2013, Clapper and Michael Vickers, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, were concerned about the tumult inside the agency and told Flynn that his tenure would last just two years. Flynn unsuccessfully tried to extend his term when his successor’s nomination was delayed. Shedd later became the acting director.
On August 7, 2014, at a ceremony in the atrium of the D.I.A.’s headquarters, Flynn retired from the military, after thirty-three years. His wife and two sons attended, as did Michael Ledeen. The senior military intelligence official, who was present, told me that Flynn was obviously bitter: “He was loading up, and he was not going to go quietly.”
Flynn, who was fifty-five, began fashioning a post-military life. He started his own business, the Flynn Intel Group, which offered clients a range of private intelligence and security services. He did some freelance consulting and also worked with SBD Advisors, a strategic consulting firm whose roster included the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen; former chief of the Special Operations Command Admiral Eric Olson; and other retired military officers. In January, 2015, Flynn signed with Leading Authorities, a speakers’ bureau, which promoted his expertise in leadership, cybersecurity, and terrorism.
Flynn began developing a public profile as a decorated former general with experience in fighting Islamic extremism. A month later, he made an appearance on “Charlie Rose.” He spoke at length about the threat posed by the Islamic State, which had been executing hostages and rapidly acquiring territory in northern Iraq and Syria. But America faced bigger foes than isis, he said. “Iran has killed more Americans than Al Qaeda has through state sponsors, through its terrorist network, called Hezbollah.”
This was a puzzling assertion. “Hezbollah has killed more Americans than Al Qaeda?” Rose asked.
Flynn began a count, starting with Hezbollah’s 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed two hundred and eighty-three people. He cited other instances, but his math made little sense, and the numbers fell far short of the nearly three thousand killed by Al Qaeda’s attacks on 9/11.
Rose moved on, but a friend who had accompanied Flynn to the studio pulled him aside after the taping and questioned his Iran claim. One of Rose’s producers offered to fact-check the segment, but he waved off the suggestion. Another friend who’d come to the taping suggested contacting an expert from the intelligence community. That wouldn’t be necessary, Flynn said—he would just call Michael Ledeen.
Flynn and Ledeen’s relationship soon became a professional collaboration. Flynn asked Ledeen to help him write a book. Flynn wanted to position himself as a sage counsellor for the upcoming Presidential campaign. Ledeen had written more than a dozen books, including five on Iran. They were often polemical works, with titles such as “The War Against the Terror Masters” and “The Iranian Time Bomb,” and were filled with sweeping statements like “Islamic fundamentalism, of which the ideology of the Iranian regime is a textbook case, draws much of its inspiration from Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin.”
In April, 2015, Flynn accepted an invitation to spend a week at Dartmouth. Daniel Benjamin, a former State Department counterterrorism chief who now directed the school’s international-affairs center, had come to know Flynn in Afghanistan. He considered him friendly and engaging, and thought students and faculty would appreciate his insights and his unconventionality. He set up class visits, dinner discussions, and a talk, which Flynn titled “World Without Order.”
Benjamin told me that he quickly realized during the visit that Flynn’s “easygoing pragmatism” had given way to some “very hard-edged ideas,” particularly on Iran. Flynn voiced contempt toward Iran’s leaders (“They are liars”) and said that they had “no right” to participate in negotiations with the United States over their nuclear program. (The Iran nuclear deal was signed in July, 2015.)
“I’ve encountered plenty of military officers who were deeply upset by the role that Iranian-backed militias played in Iraq, but Flynn’s animosity was off the charts,” Benjamin said. Flynn expressed similarly harsh views of Islam in general, describing the faith as a political ideology, and not a religion. Benjamin, who, in 2002, co-wrote a book, “The Age of Sacred Terror,” about the ideological war that America faced against radical Islam, deemed Flynn’s comments “pointlessly pejorative” and thought they would serve only to inflame extremists. He began discouraging Dartmouth’s administrators and faculty from attending the events.
On Fox News, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CNN, and elsewhere, Flynn became increasingly critical of the Obama Administration. He lashed out at the Iran nuclear deal, the Administration’s isis strategy, and its approach to radical Islam generally. Several Republican hopefuls preparing to run against Hillary Clinton asked for his advice. Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, brought Flynn on as an informal adviser for her Presidential bid. She told me that she found him refreshing. “He is a very down-to-earth, approachable guy,” she said. She was also impressed by his candor. Flynn, she said, “doesn’t pull punches.”
In August, 2015, Flynn went to New York to meet Trump for the first time. They were scheduled to talk for thirty minutes; the conversation lasted ninety. Flynn was deeply impressed. “I knew he was going to be the President of the United States,” he told me.
Two months later, Flynn appeared on RT, the English-language Russian television channel, formerly known as Russia Today. The outlet was widely regarded as a propaganda arm of the Kremlin, even before a recent U.S. intelligence report on Russian hacking and the Presidential election said that the channel had become an important part of a “Kremlin-directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government.” Flynn discussed the civil war in Syria, where Russian jets were flying bombing sorties in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. He contrasted Putin’s resolve with what he described as Obama’s dithering in the region: “There’s no coherence or no clarity to the strategy.”
In early November, 2015, a D.C.-based representative of RT contacted Flynn’s speakers’ bureau and invited him to Moscow for the channel’s tenth-anniversary celebration. The fee was approximately forty thousand dollars, according to a source familiar with the arrangement. This trip was considerably more fraught than the one he had made as D.I.A. director. On December 1st, RT issued a press release announcing Flynn’s participation. In e-mails, Simone Ledeen urged her former boss, and family friend, to reconsider. “I begged him, ‘Please, sir: don’t do this. It’s not just you. You’re a retired three-star general. It’s the Army. It’s all of the people who have been with you, all of these analysts known as “Flynn’s people.” Don’t do this to them. Don’t do this to yourself.’ ”
Flynn assured his critics that he knew what he was doing. “Know my values and beliefs are mine & won’t change because I’m on a different piece of geography,” he tweeted. Before the trip, Flynn received a classified counterespionage briefing at D.I.A. headquarters. Hall, the former C.I.A. chief of Russia operations, told me, “Whatever personal electronic device you carry with you into Russia will be compromised.”
Flynn stayed at a hotel near Red Square. The RT gala featured speakers and panel discussions during the day and a dinner at night. That morning, Sophie Shevardnadze, an RT correspondent, interviewed Flynn. From the stage, he confessed to feeling as if he were behind enemy lines. “I’m sort of in the lair,” he said.
A Russian jet had recently been shot down near the Syrian border by a Turkish plane, and Shevardnadze asked Flynn how Russia should respond. “Are we not to react? What does Turkey expect?” she asked. Circumspect, Flynn said, “I don’t know what Turkey expects. I don’t know what Russia expects.”
Flynn also seemed to go out of his way to tweak the Russian government and its partners in Damascus and Tehran. “Let’s face it, come on, is Assad the future of Syria, given the way the situation has unfolded?” Flynn said. He added that Assad’s allies in Iran were making things worse in Syria and elsewhere. “Iran exports a lot of terrorism,” he declared.
Flynn was seated at the head table for dinner that evening. Putin sat to his left. Cyril Svoboda, the former foreign minister of the Czech Republic, sat to Flynn’s right. I called Svoboda, who speaks fluent English and Russian, and who translated a brief exchange between the two men, and asked what they discussed. “It was very, very short,” Svoboda said. “ ‘Kak vashi dela?’ ‘Shto novovo?’ ‘Khorosho.’ ” (“How are you?” “What’s new?” “Good.”)
After dinner, Putin went onstage and congratulated RT on its success. The Russian government wasn’t perfect, he said, so he appreciated RT for its presentation of “various points of view.” After Putin concluded his remarks, Flynn, joining other diners, stood and applauded.
Last year, Flynn talked to Dana Priest, of the Washington Post, about the trip. When Priest asked why he would go on RT, a state-run channel, Flynn replied, “Well, what’s CNN?”
“Well, it’s not run by the state,” Priest said. “You’re rolling your eyes.”
“Well, what’s MSNBC?” Flynn said. “I mean, come on . . . what’s Al Jazeera?”
By early 2016, Flynn was enthusiastic about Trump. “He picked the right horse and he picked it early,” the close Flynn associate told me. Flynn’s Twitter feed, which had once been full of sunset photos and surf reports, turned increasingly reactionary, particularly on immigration and Islam. “Fear of Muslims is rational,” he posted, last February. Not long afterward, he retweeted a picture apparently showing refugees tromping across the European countryside with text that read, “Historians will look back in amazement that the West destroyed its own civilization.”
In July, his book with Ledeen, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies,” came out. After Trump tweeted an endorsement, the book made the Times best-seller list. Although Ledeen’s name appears (in small type) on the cover, “The Field of Fight” is written in the first person and presented in Flynn’s voice. But I ran the book through software that allowed me to compare it to the text of Ledeen’s previous books and articles. Dozens of matches turned up. The similarities suggested just how much Ledeen’s long-standing obsessions had melded into Flynn’s. Although an isis flag is pictured on the front cover, “The Field of Fight” is, in many ways, a call to action against Iran. “Every day we see evidence of Iranian espionage in the United States,” Flynn writes. “It is hard to imagine that there are no Hezbollah terrorist groups inside this country. If they could blow up buildings in Buenos Aires, they can surely do the same here.”
During the summer of 2016, the Trump campaign floated Flynn, a lifelong Democrat, as a Vice-Presidential candidate. After the Republican Convention, Flynn became a regular presence at Trump campaign events, sometimes accompanied by his older son, Michael, Jr. Flynn had been absent for long stretches of Michael, Jr.,’s, teen-age years and early adulthood—he reportedly missed his wedding while deployed in Iraq. Flynn made Michael, Jr., his chief of staff.
In part through his son, Flynn began flirting with an online community of conspiracy theorists and white nationalists who referred to themselves as the “alt-right.” The neo-Nazis among them called Trump the “God Emperor.” On Twitter, Flynn frequently tagged Mike Cernovich, an alt-right activist, in tweets, and encouraged others to follow his feed. Michael, Jr., promoted stories from Alex Jones, the right-wing radio host who believes that the 9/11 attacks, and the 2012 school shooting in Sandy Hook, were inside jobs. A little more than a year ago, Michael, Jr., tweeted @billclinton, “You’re a Rapist.”
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Flynn’s own views seemed to be tilting increasingly toward the fringe. He, as Trump has, publicly insinuated that Obama was a secret Muslim, and not a true American. “I’m not going to sit here and say he’s Islamic,” Flynn said of Obama, during remarks last year before the American Congress for Truth, an anti-Muslim group. But Obama “didn’t grow up an American kid,” Flynn said, adding that the President’s values were “totally different than mine.”
Flynn also stoked fear about Muslims and, in a tweet that used the hashtag #NeverHillary, shared an anti-Semitic comment that read, in part, “Not anymore, Jews. Not anymore.” (He subsequently deleted the tweet, calling it “a mistake.”) “I’m not perfect. I’m not a very good social-media person,” he told me in one of our conversations. Stanley McChrystal and Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, both contacted Flynn and tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to tone it down.
Flynn predicted a Trump win, but he was making contingency plans. He began reorienting his firm, the Flynn Intel Group, so that it would be able to compete for lobbying clients after the election. The firm arranged to work with Sphere Consulting, a public-relations and lobbying business in Washington.
In August of last year, a Turkish businessman with close ties to the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hired Flynn Intel Group on a lobbying contract to help promote the view that Turkey’s business climate was a positive one. This was a challenging task, given that Erdoğan had survived a coup attempt just the month before, and was, in retaliation, rounding up anyone considered insufficiently faithful to his regime. Flynn had previously been critical of Erdoğan, whom he viewed as an Islamist threat. He put those concerns aside now as he vouched for Erdoğan’s government, writing an op-ed for The Hill that heralded Turkey as “our strongest ally” against isis.
Flynn remembered Election Night fondly, a moment of triumph. “I like to think that I helped get Donald Trump elected President,” he told me. “Maybe I helped a little, maybe a lot.” One of Trump’s first major decisions was to appoint Flynn his national-security adviser, calling him “an invaluable asset to me and my Administration.” Flynn told me, “Service was something our family was always encouraged to do.” He went on, “I made some mistakes, but I’m still serving. It’s like being a priest, you know. I’ve been called to serve.”
After the election, Flynn spent his days at Trump Tower, down the hall from Bannon and Reince Priebus. “My sched is so tight, literally from sunrise to well past sunset,” Flynn wrote me, in a text message. He was “consumed with reading.”
The team he assembled drew heavily from his former military colleagues, but the qualifications of others were less apparent. K. T. McFarland, until recently a Fox News analyst, became his deputy. Flynn’s son, Michael, Jr., did a brief stint on the transition, before he was dismissed, after continuing to push on Twitter the fake-news story about Hillary Clinton’s role in a child-sex-trafficking ring in a pizzeria in northwest Washington, D.C.
Michael Ledeen volunteered to help Flynn by examining Obama’s executive orders on foreign policy, particularly on Iran, recommending “which ones should be cancelled, which ones should be expanded, and so on.” Ledeen considered the moment an auspicious one. “I’ve been agitating for thirty years to go after Iran,” he said. “Now all of a sudden we’ve got a national-security adviser, a Secretary of Defense, and the head of the C.I.A. who all agree.”
Like Trump, Flynn stewed over what was said, and written, about him. Much of it was unfavorable. A scathing Times editorial called his appointment “alarming,” saying that he “would encourage Mr. Trump’s worst impulses.” The editorial went on, “A core theme of Mr. Trump’s campaign was making America safer. With this appointment, he is doing the opposite.”
When we met at the restaurant before the Inauguration, Flynn was guarded. “What’s the purpose of this thing?” he asked me. He had previously questioned whether I would “rehash all this stuff about me being anti-Semitic and pro-Russia and an Islamophobe.”
Flynn told me he prided himself as a strategist. I asked about his strategy for combatting isis. He said that Obama had “too narrowly defined” efforts to defeat the enemy. Part of the Trump Administration’s military strategy should include “fighting these guys on the battlefield,” he told me.
Although Bannon’s clout seemingly grew by the day, Flynn’s imprint on national-security policy was unmistakable. Traditionally, the measure of a national-security adviser’s effectiveness has been defined by his relationship with the President. That may well have enabled Flynn to hold on to his job as long as he did; Trump’s loyalty is well known. (When I asked Flynn if he regarded himself as the “honest broker,” he said that model was a “misnomer” with Trump. “The honest broker? It’s Donald Trump.”)
Nine days into the new Administration, Iran test-fired a ballistic missile from a remote base in the desert. Flynn regarded the test as a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, covering the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. (In fact, the resolution does not prohibit Iran from firing missiles but, rather, calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”)
Flynn’s team drafted a strongly worded warning that criticized the Obama Administration for “fail[ing] to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions.” The White House sent a draft to the Pentagon for review. According to a senior military official, staffers in the Defense Secretary’s office recommended softening some of the language and removing the condemnations of the Obama Administration. Their suggestions were ignored.
Three days after the missile test, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, interrupted his daily briefing and invited Flynn to the lectern. The Times had just published a story describing Flynn’s influence as waning, and he seemed intent on proving otherwise. Trump had encouraged him to read the statement himself, Flynn later told me. The President “felt a strong message needed to be put out,” he said, as if he could dispel rumors of White House turmoil by threatening war overseas.
Flynn scolded Iran for its “destabilizing behavior across the entire Middle East” and declared, “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” I spoke to Flynn a few days later. I asked him what he meant by “on notice.” He replied, “We have a standard, set by sanctions that have been put in place, that we expect they will meet.” I asked if he thought there were ways to modify Iran’s behavior short of regime change.
“You’ll have to ask Khomeini,” he said. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the cleric who led the Islamic Revolution, died in 1989. Did Flynn mean Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has led the country since then?
“Come on,” Flynn said. “That’s my Irish brogue.” He declined to specify how Iran might be punished, because he didn’t want to “telegraph” military action. “One thing I learned as a lieutenant in the Army is that the best plan is the one that gives you the most options at the last possible minute,” he said.
Military officials have been drawing up retaliatory options, including warplanes, drones, troops, and cyberattacks. “Planning is trying to keep up with the rhetoric,” one senior defense official told me.
“And that’s when he realized he wasn’t on the partner track at all!”
MARCH 10, 2014
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The end for Flynn came rather abruptly. He had spent the weekend with the President and the Prime Minister of Japan at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where they had used a table in an open dining area as an impromptu—and unsecured—situation room after a ballistic missile test by North Korea. But, back in Washington on Monday afternoon, there was confusion about Flynn’s standing. During a television interview, Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser, said that Flynn enjoyed Trump’s “full confidence.” Then, within the hour, Spicer said that Trump was “evaluating the situation.” Flynn went about his duties as usual that afternoon, participating in foreign-policy discussions in the Oval Office, an Administration official told me.
But, that evening, another Post article appeared online, this time about the Justice Department’s blackmail fears. Soon afterward, Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation. The news broke just before eleven.
Since the election, Flynn had been “read in” to dozens of “special access programs,” the country’s most highly classified intelligence operations. By protocol, he would have spent his final moments in the White House being “read out” of each program, a process that involves signing multiple confidentiality forms. At around 11:30 p.m., he walked out of the White House and called his wife.
At that hour, the roads were empty and Flynn drove, alone, to his home, in Old Town Alexandria. He barely slept that night. On Tuesday, a government representative came to his home to collect his phones, badges, and keys. He spent the next few days with his wife, taking long walks, “reflecting and capturing his thoughts,” the close associate told me. As Washington, just across the Potomac River, convulsed, Flynn was going through his own “range of emotional swings,” the associate said.
Last Wednesday, at a midday press conference, Trump, who Spicer said earlier had lost trust in Flynn, now praised him (“a fine person”), blamed the media for his ouster (“The press should be ashamed of themselves”), and attributed Flynn’s resignation not to potentially criminal contacts with the Russian Ambassador but to “illegal” leaks.
There were reports of investigations on an array of fronts: an F.B.I.-led inquiry into Flynn’s communications with the Russian Ambassador; an Army-led one into payments that Flynn might have received from the Russian government when he went to Moscow in 2015; and calls for probes from members of the Senate and House intelligence committees.
Flynn has been consulting with a lawyer. It is illegal for unauthorized private citizens to conduct diplomacy with foreign governments, but such a violation would be difficult to prosecute. When, soon after Flynn became national-security adviser, F.B.I. agents questioned him, he denied discussing sanctions with Kislyak, the Post reported. If he lied to the F.B.I., he could be vulnerable to felony charges.
Russian officials deny any improper contact with Flynn or anyone else in Trump’s circle. The predominant view in the state media and among Russian analysts is that the Flynn affair, coupled with the American intelligence report on the hack of the Democratic National Committee, is likely to limit Trump’s ability to make some of the major changes in U.S.-Russia policy that he was hinting at throughout the campaign.
Last week, Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, requested a briefing from the director of national intelligence on Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, including unredacted transcripts of conversations. Schiff expressed concern to me about evidence preservation; the Administration had already shown its capacity for deceit. After all, he said, Trump had known “for weeks” that Flynn was lying. “The fact that they were O.K. with that tells you a lot about their comfort level misleading the public.”
A former C.I.A. official raised similar concerns about how long Flynn was allowed to stay in his job. “We’ve now got a guy briefed on our most closely guarded secrets about a whole host of issues—including Russia—who has been canned,” the official said. “We don’t have something from the movies where you can put an eraser on someone’s head and it all goes away. We’ve got to rely on Mike Flynn to keep those secrets, just as we rely on others who’ve been given access to classified information when they leave those positions.”
White House officials portrayed Flynn as having had his conversations with the Russian Ambassador on his own. But Schiff and others are doubtful. Schiff said he thought that it would be “extraordinary” if Flynn was “some kind of free agent, entering into discussions with the Russians about undermining President Obama’s sanctions against Russia for its interference in our elections to help elect Donald Trump.” (During a news conference last Thursday, Trump said that Flynn had done nothing wrong in his discussions with the Russian envoy. “I didn’t direct him,” Trump said, “but I would have directed him if he didn’t do it.”)
Some of Flynn’s former military colleagues, even those from whom he’s drifted apart in recent years, told me they were skeptical that Flynn would have conducted shadow diplomacy on his own. Despite his reputation as an agitator, he was, in the end, a soldier who followed orders, they said.
“This story is bigger than Mike Flynn,” the senior military intelligence official said. “Who told Mike to go do this? I think somebody said, ‘Mike, you’ve got some contacts. Let them know it’s gonna be all right.’ Mike’s a soldier. He did not go rogue.” ♦
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/ ... eral-chaos
Why The Flynn-Russia Affair Is So Troubling For Trump
Call it what you will: Flynnghazi. Russiagate. The Crackpot Dome scandal. No matter the sobriquet attached to the inappropriate discussions between the Russian ambassador and Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security advisor, the growing cancer from this case is not going away.
Perhaps the Russia scandal seemed like it had disappeared amid the antics of the past week, from Trump’s rambling, 77-minute press conference, his Saturday rally—where he surprised Sweden with news of some imaginary immigrant disaster the previous night—or his declaration that the news media was the enemy of the American people.
But even if Trump tries to sweep the Flynn affair aside with his now-cliché proclamation that everything he dislikes is “fake news,” enough evidence already exists to demonstrate that this scandal could consume the administration for months to come. Little doubt, Trump’s words at his press conference about Flynn’s Russia contacts—“I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it’’—will likely join the ranks of ill-advised presidential scandal comments along the lines of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman Lewinsky,’’ and “I am not a crook.”
There are multiple issues at play in this matter, but the basic story is this: The United States imposed sanctions on Russia following its 2014 military incursion into Ukraine. Additional limited sanctions were put in place last year in reaction to Russia’s use of hacking and propaganda campaigns to influence the American election. In a December 30 conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Flynn discussed the sanctions, raising questions of whether he had said anything to undermine the policies of then-still-in-office President Barack Obama. On January 12, The Washington Post reported that the discussions between Flynn and Kislyak had taken place. That day, Flynn denied to White House spokesman Sean Spicer that he had mentioned sanctions. Flynn also deceived Vice President Michael Pence, assuring him that they had only discussed logistics for phone calls with Trump; Pence then repeated that falsehood publicly on January 16.
All very embarrassing. But what has happened since makes clear this is more than just an issue of White House bumbling. The magnitude of the growing scandal, even without specific details of Flynn’s words to the Russian ambassador, require an understanding of the rules involving surveillance by the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Despite the fears of the uninformed, America’s surveillance teams do not read emails and listen in on phone calls haphazardly. There are very specific requirements that already signal that Flynn’s communications with Kislyak, along with any other intercepted information transmitted to representatives of the Kremlin, raise serious issues.
The first rule to understand involves the term of art, “an American person.” Before 9/11, the rules were quite strict: No one could be surveilled in the United States without a warrant issued by a national security court. That meant, if the NSA had detected Osama bin Laden speaking on a cell phone as he crossed a bridge from Canada to Buffalo, they would have to shut down their surveillance the second he reached the American side. A corporation based in the United States was also considered “an American person,” meaning any information about it had to be excised from files and memos. That meant, literally, if the NSA intercepted a conversation overseas where one terrorist told another that he would be flying to the United States on Delta, the information distributed throughout the intelligence community could include the date and the scheduled departure or arrival time, but not the name of the airline.
That system went through a huge overhaul in the aftermath of the Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. And some of the rules were revised again after Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the NSA, publicly revealed some of the details about the surveillance system. Even still, America is far from being out of the spy business, and for someone like Flynn to get swept up in the surveillance and analysis system requires that the counterintelligence experts in government clear some very high hurdles.
The first rule comes from Executive Order 12333, signed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, which gives the FBI and the NSA the authority to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as the basis for actively monitoring communications between foreign officials inside the United States, including ambassadors like Kislyak. In fact, the most surprising element of this entire scandal is that, barring absolute incompetence, Flynn must have known—and Kislyak certainly knew—that their conversations would probably be recorded.
This is not a matter of some simple “listen to it and analyze” process. The amount of data coming into the NSA alone on a daily basis is almost beyond human comprehension. The agency is something of a data factory, chopping, slicing and dicing all information coming in following a series of complex procedures. A program called Xkeyscore processes all intercepted signals before they then move on to another area that deals with particular specialized issues.
The rules for handling an intercept of a conversation between an official of the American government and the target of surveillance differ in some substantial ways from those used for average citizens. The recording would be deemed “raw FISA-acquired material,’’ some of the NSA’s most highly classified information. Then that recording or a transcript of it would be read into one of the four surveillance programs codenamed RAGTIME. There are RAGTIME-A, -B, -C, and -P. Most likely, according to one former government official with ties to the intelligence community, the conversation would have been analyzed through RAGTIME-B, which relates to communications from a foreign territory into the United States (the Russian embassy is considered sovereign land of that country). The conversation could not have fallen under RAGTIME-A, because that involves only foreign-to-foreign communications. RAGTIME-C deals with anti-proliferation matters and RAGTIME-P is for counterterrorism. (This is the infamous warrantless wiretapping program, with “P” standing for the post-9/11 law, the Patriot Act.)
Assuming the Flynn recording involved RAGTIME-B, because of his position as a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and being the incoming president’s national security advisor, the intercepted material would be immediately analyzed. If Flynn—as the White House first stated when the news of his contacts with Kislyak became public—had been engaged in pleasantries or planning meeting times for the Russians with Trump, the records of Flynn’s side of the conversation would no longer exist. Flynn would have been deemed an American person, and the intercepted recordings and transcripts would be “minimized”—the word used in the surveillance world for when portions or all of an intercepted communication is destroyed. In other words, if the conversation was no more than “How are you Ambassador Kislyak,” or “Let’s set up a meeting for you and a Russian delegation with the president-elect,” Flynn’s words would no longer exist in any American file.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, something in the recording led the first-level analysts from RAGTIME to follow the next leg of the procedure and take the intercept to the head of the FBI’s National Security Division for another review. Again, if a conclusion was reached that there was nothing in the call to raise concerns, the reviews would have stopped there and the data would have been minimized. But the division head instead decided that the intercepted conversation merited bringing the raw transcript to James Comey, the director of the FBI, and his deputy. (At the time, this would have been Mark F. Giuliano, a veteran of the bureau. Giuliano has since retired and, as of this month, was replaced by Andrew G. McCabe, a former lawyer in private practice who joined the federal law enforcement agency in 1996.) The director and his deputy were then the final arbiters of whether the intercepted communications merited further investigation. And they decided it did.
There were three communications intercepted, the first on December 18. One of them was a text message, the other two were phone calls. That raw FISA-acquired material was reviewed by analysts read into RAGTIME, who found it concerning. They took it to the head of the National Security Division, who found it concerning. That led to the transcript being delivered to the director and deputy director of the FBI. And they found it concerning—in fact, concerning enough that they opened an investigation and have already interviewed Flynn.
The conversation of greatest importance took place on December 30. That was the day after the Obama administration took action against Russia for interfering with the American election with cyberattacks, expelling 35 suspected spies and imposing sanctions on two of that country’s intelligence agencies involved in hacking. It was in Flynn’s conversation the following day that he discussed the issue of American sanctions on Russia, which he later denied having done to Vice President Pence.
Two more events at that time raise the greatest numbers of questions. Espionage has always been a tit-for-tat game. America expels Russian spies, Russia retaliates by expelling American spies and vice-versa. Both sides already know the identities of plenty of spies working alongside the diplomats, so it is hardly difficult to throw them out as needed. But this time, Russia did…nothing. President Vladimir Putin announced the same day as the Flynn call that his country would take no action in retaliation to the expulsion. Then, almost immediately afterward, Trump sent out an almost unprecedented message, tweeting at 1:41 p.m. what amounted to a congratulations to the leader of a foreign aggressor nation for essentially blowing off the American president. “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) - I always knew he was very smart!” Trump tweeted.
The failure by Putin to act stunned the counterintelligence experts in the government. Trump’s rah-rah cheers for this almost unprecedented move were, at best, unseemly and, at worst, a sign that the president-elect was sending messages to Putin that undermined ongoing American policy. The search for information about how this bizarre situation unfolded led to the Flynn recording being discovered, analyzed and brought up the chain of command in the FBI. And on January 12, when Spicer repeated Flynn’s statements, followed by Pence’s assurances on January 16—four days before the inauguration—the FBI knew that someone with the incoming administration was lying. FBI Director Comey decided to wait before contacting the Trump team until after the swearing-in. Finally, a few days after the inauguration, FBI agents interviewed Flynn. Shortly afterward, the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, informed the new White House counsel, Don McGahn, that they had recordings that showed Flynn’s accounts of what he had discussed were not true. Eleven days passed before anyone told the vice president that he had been deceived into making false public statements.
Trump’s tweet praising the Russian president in the middle of all of this subterfuge is troubling enough, but there is one fact that has gone relatively unmentioned: Trump either knows exactly what Flynn said, or he is incompetent. He has the full authority to ask for the raw FISA-acquired material. He could read the transcripts, listen to the recording himself, or have an intelligence analyst sit down with him and go over the conversation in detail. But Trump has never indicated he knows what Flynn said. Worse, in the 77-minute press conference, no reporter asked him that simple yes-or-no question, “Have you read the Flynn transcript or listened to the recording?” So at this point, Trump either knows the same information that has alarmed so many levels of the national counterintelligence experts in government and is unconcerned, or he has failed to ask for details while proclaiming he would have told Flynn to do exactly as the former national security advisor had done. Or the worst option—Trump knew ahead of time what Flynn was planning to do, and the “attaboy!” tweet to Putin was part of it.
So, what did the president know and when did he know it? As previously reported in Newsweek, some of America’s allies, including one foreign intelligence service that also intercepted at least one of Flynn’s communications with the Russians, are trying to figure that out. Meanwhile, the FBI is hard at work investigating the mess of Russia, hacking, Flynn and whoever else gets dragged into this mess.
The investigation apparently has already dug up a lot of information. After lots of foot-dragging by Republicans in Congress who were not eager to investigate Russia’s influence and dalliances with the Trump team, Comey sat down with members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to brief them on what he knew. The meeting lasted for close to three hours. When the senators emerged, there was no more shrugging of shoulders about the Russia scandals. Senator Marco Rubio tweeted out, “I am now very confident Senate Intel Comm I serve on will conduct thorough bipartisan investigation of interference and influence.” Letters from members of Congress were sent to the White House demanding that no documents related to contacts with Russia be destroyed. No one is screaming “Fake news!” anymore when it comes to the Russia story. Except, of course, President Trump.
http://www.nationalmemo.com/flynn-russi ... dium=email
Trump-Russia conspirator Michael Flynn registers as foreign agent, admits he took half million dollars
By Bill Palmer | March 8, 2017 | 0
Former Donald Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has officially registered with the United States government as a foreign agent today, in the process admitting that he took more than half a million dollars in lobbying funds from Turkey during the U.S. election. Flynn’s paid work for Turkey had long been reported, but he’s now acknowledging it. This raises the question of what endgame Flynn is playing amid the exploding Trump-Russia scandal.
By registering as a foreign agent today and reporting himself for having taken the $530,000 from Turkey, Michael Flynn is essentially admitting guilt on the matter, and appears to be trying to position himself for some kind of leniency. This move suggests that after years of unsanctioned international freelancing on his part, Flynn is now suddenly trying to get his legal ducks in a row. Today’s action was likely taken on the advice of an attorney. But Flynn is also facing the fact that he lied to the FBI about Russia, a felony. So what has his attorney instructed him to do about that matter?
Flynn’s next move now becomes crucial in terms of telegraphing how he plans to try to survive the Trump-Russia scandal and who he’s willing to give up. His sudden desire to “go straight” legally today may be a pretext for cutting a deal with the FBI in which he agrees to share what he knows about the involvement of higher-ups such as Donald Trump or Jeff Sessions.
But whether Michael Flynn is planning to drop another shoe on Trump’s head over Russia, today’s decision to register as a foreign agent (source: AP) marks yet another black eye for the Donald Trump campaign. It was employing a foreign policy adviser who was simultaneously working as a paid foreign agent, and it likely knew it at the time. Now all eyes are on Flynn to see what his next steps are for trying to save himself.
https://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/tr ... lars/1836/
Former Trump aide Flynn says lobbying may have helped Turkey
By STEPHEN BRAUN and CHAD DAY
Mar. 8, 2017 8:09 PM EST
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was fired from his prominent White House job last month, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day that may have aided the Turkish government.
Paperwork filed Tuesday with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit said Flynn and his firm were voluntarily registering for lobbying from August through November that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey." It was filed by a lawyer on behalf of the former U.S. Army lieutenant general and intelligence chief.
After his firm's work on behalf of a Turkish company was done, Flynn agreed not to lobby for five years after leaving government service and never to represent foreign governments.
Under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, U.S. citizens who lobby on behalf of foreign government or political entities must disclose their work to the Justice Department. Willfully failing to register is a felony, though the Justice Department rarely files criminal charges in such cases. It routinely works with lobbying firms to get back in compliance with the law by registering and disclosing their work.
A Turkish businessman who hired Flynn's consulting firm told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the amended filings were made in response to pressure from Justice Department officials in recent weeks. The businessman, Ekim Alptekin, said in a phone call from Istanbul that the changes were a response to "political pressure" and he did not agree with Flynn's decision to file the registration documents with the Justice Department.
"I disagree with the filing," he said. "It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government."
Flynn's attorney did not respond to questions about whether the Justice Department or FBI had contacted Flynn about his lobbying activities.
Flynn's consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., had previously disclosed to Congress that it worked for Inovo BV, a Dutch-based company owned by Alptekin. But neither Flynn nor his company had previously filed paperwork with the Justice Department, which requires more extensive transparency about work that benefits foreign governments and political interests.
In the filings with the Justice Department, Flynn's attorney, Robert Kelner, noted they served as a termination of the registration, saying the firm had ceased operations in November, the same month the lobbying contract ended.
Calls to phone numbers associated with Flynn and his firm weren't answered. Kelner, his attorney, declined to comment through a spokesman for his law firm, Covington & Burling.
Reached Wednesday afternoon, an official at the Turkish embassy in Washington said he would refer the questions to the embassy spokesman. The spokesman did not immediately respond.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Trump fired Flynn last month for misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
As a key member of Trump's transition team last December, Flynn spoke by phone several times with Kislyak during the period when former President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. and levied new sanctions in response to Russian election-related hacking.
According to the new paperwork, Flynn's firm took on the Turkish-related lobbying work in August while he was a top Trump campaign surrogate. Flynn Intel disclosed in its filing that in mid-September, the company was invited by Alptekin to meet with Turkish officials in New York.
Alptekin acknowledged Wednesday that he had set up the meeting between Flynn and the two officials. He said they met at an undisclosed hotel in New York. Alptekin said Flynn happened to be in New York while the Turkish officials were attending United Nations sessions and a separate conference Alptekin had arranged.
"I asked one of Gen. Flynn's staff if he was in town and would be available to meet and they got in touch with him," said Alptekin, who owns several businesses in Turkey.
Among those officials, the documents said, were Turkey's ministers of foreign affairs and energy. Flynn's company did not name the officials but reported the two worked for Turkey's government "to the best of Flynn Intel Group's current understanding."
Alptekin, who previously told The Associated Press he has no relationship with the Turkish government, is a member of a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president.
Erdogan's power base is Turkey's Islamic voters, and since a failed coup in July, he has accelerated a crackdown against the nation's weakening secularist faction. Erdogan has accused cleric Fethullah Gulen of orchestrating the aborted coup and called for his extradition from the U.S., where he lives. The Obama administration did not comply, and Gulen still lives in a compound in Pennsylvania.
According to the filing, Flynn Intel's work involved collecting information about Gulen and pressuring U.S. officials to take action against the cleric, including a meeting in October between Flynn's firm and a representative of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Flynn Intel arranged the meeting to discuss a technology developed by another Flynn Intel client. But after discussing the technology, the firm changed the subject to Gulen, pressuring the committee to hold congressional hearings to investigate the cleric, said a U.S. official with direct knowledge of Flynn Intel's work. That request was rebuffed. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The official said Flynn Intel never revealed whom it was representing during the meeting.
The October meeting came as Flynn was working on an op-ed promoting Turkey's political and business affairs that was later published in The Hill, a Washington-based political newspaper. Flynn wrote that Turkey needed support and echoed Erdogan's warnings about Gulen, whom he called a "shady" Turkish Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania. Flynn argued that Gulen should not be given safe harbor in the U.S.
In the new filing, Flynn disclosed that in writing the op-ed, he relied on research conducted as part of the Inovo BV contract. Flynn's firm also admitted it conducted "open-source research," directed by Inovo, focusing on Gulen.
The results "were provided to Inovo" and to a separate lobbying firm, S.G.R. LLC Government Relations and Lobbying, a public relations company retained by Flynn Intel. The materials were aimed for distribution to "third parties," but because the project terminated early, "the full scope of the contract was not performed," according to the filings.
In the filings, Flynn emphasized that neither Inovo BV nor the Turkish government directed him to write the op-ed. He also said he was not paid for the op-ed. Alptekin said he had been opposed to Flynn's writing the op-ed, although he agreed with its anti-Gulen and pro-Turkley stances.
Alptekin added that he had asked for some of the $530,000 in payments to the Flynn Intel Group to be returned to him because of his dissatisfaction with the company's performance.
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/former-t ... y-lobbying
Turkey has asked for its money back from former Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn
By Bill Palmer | March 10, 2017 | 0
What could possibly be more damning for Michael Flynn and the Donald Trump administration than Flynn having been on a Turkish political figure’s payroll at the time he was appointed National Security Adviser, and the Trump campaign having known about it at the time? How about Turkey asking Flynn for the money back after was forced to resign and was no longer in a position to manipulate things on its behalf?
That’s the question now facing both Flynn and the Trump administration amid the revelation that Turkey’s Ekim Alptekin has asked Michael Flynn for a refund. Steven A. Cook, who describes himself as the Eni Enrico Mattei senior fellow for Middle East & Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has shared the following revelation: “Ekim Alptekin asked for money back from Flynn Intel. I guess he thought Fethullah Gulen would be extradited.”
Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish national currently residing in Pennsylvania who has been accused by the Turkish government of having been behind the failed coup attempt during the U.S. election. Cook’s assertion suggests that Michael Flynn was bought off by Turkey with the specific intent of using him to get Gulen extradited. That obviously didn’t happen, with Flynn only lasting twenty-four days on the job before being forced to resign due to his role in the Trump-Russia scandal. But it gets worse.
As Palmer Report reported earlier today, Vice President Mike Pence lied this week when he claimed that he wasn’t aware of Michael Flynn’s financial arrangement with Turkey until he heard about it in the media. Congressman Elijah Cummings sent a letter to Pence’s office back in November informing him of the situation, meaning that Pence (and presumably Donald Trump) knew Flynn was taking Turkey’s money when he was named National Security Adviser. Oops.
http://www.palmerreport.com/politics/tu ... lynn/1875/
ByJOSH MARSHALLPublishedMARCH 10, 2017, 11:40 PM EDT
A recently retired FBI agent, Brian McCauley, was the fact witness at the center of yet another Clinton email 'scandal' which broke about three weeks before the November 2016 election. This was the 'quid pro quo' story about email classification which broke in mid-October. It turns out that about two weeks before that story came out, McCauley had been placed on retainer by Trump advisor Michael Flynn, a retainer/consultancy agreement which eventually totaled $28,000.
The fees were for research tied to Flynn's foreign agent advocacy on behalf of the Republic of Turkey.
The payments were $5,000 (10/4/16); $3,000 (10/13/16); $5,000 (11/14/16); $15,000 (12/15/16). see Item 15, in FARA filing.
We already know DOJ is investigating - pressure from the DOJ is only reason given so far to explain why Flynn made a retroactive FARA filing
And the content of those filings signal that that this wasn't just an error in paperwork. The problem here isn't that the filing was late.
His lawyers' inability to coherently explain the Inovo contract -- despite what was, clearly, a noble attempt -- hints at a deeper problem.
Let's start with the disclosures Flynn Intel Group did file, under Lobbying Disclosure Act. The kind you file for non-foreign power clients.
Let's start with the disclosures Flynn Intel Group did file, under Lobbying Disc
losure Act. The kind you file for non-foreign power clients.
Back in Sept., FIG's Bob Kelley registered under
LDA for the Inovo contract. Kelley is named as the only lobbyist who will be working on it.
But that wasn't true. FIG's contract with Inovo names Flynn as the lead on the project.
And Flynn's FARA filings identify Flynn himself and partner Bijan Kian (or Rafiekian) as the *only* employees who worked on it. No Kelley.
FIG's LDA filing from December has a bigger problem: it declares that income from lobbying for Inovo for that quarter was "less than $5000."
And the filing from FIG's subcontractor, SGR, also asserted that that income from lobbying for Inovo was "less than $5,000."
But FIG and SGR's filings are factually untrue. Both received in excess of $5K. Both knew this fact. Yet both stated otherwise in filings.
Kelley, who signed the form, had to have known FIG had been paid more than $5K -- because he personally had been paid $10K as of that date.
nd SGR likewise had already been paid $40,000 at the time of its filing (although strangely, its contact with FIG was only for $30K).
To make things worse, Inovo's owner, Alptekin, went on the record in November with his own factually untrue claims
Like how the work was for a possibly mythical Israeli gas exporter, for only 'tens of thousands' of dollars.
But Alptekin has, contradicting himself, also claimed he commissioned the lobbying for his own business interests.
And Alptekin seems to have also acknowledged, at least to Turkish media, that "of course" there was some interaction with the Turkish gov't.
Alptekin also claimed that Flynn himself had no personal engagement with the work his firm was doing, and he never interacted with Flynn.
That's not true. Alptekin personally introduced Turkey's Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Energy to "FIG officials," a.k.a., Flynn.
The FARA filings studiously avoid ever naming Flynn as the "FIG official," but in the Nov. interview, he mentioned he'd met Flynn in NY.
And as for that claim that Flynn's op-ed was unconnected to Flynn's lobbying? Come the fuck on.
On *election day 2016*, Flynn was hit with a personal inspiration to publish an op-ed about a FP issue that was irrelevant to the campaign?
Alptekin's spinning himself in circles on this story. He also told the press that he'd had no idea Flynn was going to publish that op-ed.
But Flynn sent "Inovo" a draft of the op-ed to review, and Inovo provided "technical edits" prior to publishing. And "Inovo" is Alptekin.
Either Alptekin is lying here -- or there's some undisclosed third party that was sent Flynn's op-ed for review.
Ekim Alptekin Retweeted Chuck Ross
The meeting wasn't in the context of my commercial relationship with FIG. This FARA filing is flawed. Also, I was not consulted on the oped
And then there's another sticky question: what, exactly, did Inovo hire FIG to do? The filings, and the contracts, are all over the place.
The only concrete deliverable ever produced was the op-ed -- which Flynn adamantly claims wasn't done as part of the Inovo contract at all.
Flynn tries to excuse this by saying that, because the project "was terminated early," the full scope of the contract was not performed.
Except it didn't end early. The contract ended on Nov 15, just specified by the contract, as Flynn's acknowledges elsewhere in his filings.
These things can both be true -- but necessarily mean that FIG's contract with Inovo did not require FIG to produce anything at all.
But forget what Flynn is saying now. Let's look at the contract itself. What did FIG contractually agree to do for Inovo? Two things:
(1) Produce research in an "easy to disseminate format"; and (2) if it's supported by FIG's investigative findings, make criminal referrals.
This is either boilerplate that FIG forgot to edit (which seems likely), or Inovo retained FIG to try and have Gülen criminally charged.
Explanation 1: FIG was hired to help the aforementioned possibly mythical Israeli gas exporter 'understand the tumultuous political climate'
Explanation 2: FIG was hired to lobby the US gov't to adopt pro-Turkey positions, and also to solicit favorable media coverage for Turkey.
Explanation 3: Flynn, a ret. general with no film experience, was hired to make an anti-Gulen propaganda film with a half-million $ budget.
Now let's set aside what FIG was *supposed* to do for Inovo, and look at another question. What did FIG *actually* do for Inovo?
FIG itself did almost nothing. It also hired subcontractors who began to do some minimal work for Inovo, but failed to complete any of it.
(1) FIG hired another company, White Canvas, to do some "open source" research on Gülen (and for the bargain price of only $15K!).
(2) FIG hired SGR. SGR's work consisted of 4 emails, 1 phone call, 1 meeting, and "a Gülen-themed monopoly graphic" that was never released.
(3) FIG "informally engaged" a bunch of randos to "form a film and production crew" for a movie. But they never actually made the movie.
The only work done by FIG? (a) Flynn met once in NY with members of the Turkish cabinet; and (b) Kian met once with a Congressional staffer.
(Oh, yeah, FIG also hired two full-time administrative support personnel for the project: Flynn's son & Kian's long-term special assistant.)
(And a bunch of Flynn's buddies got non-specific "consultancy fees," but the filings give no hint of what work, if any, they might've done.)
To recap: A "not active" company connected to a foreign gov't paid Flynn $500K+ to do nothing, and then POTUS made Flynn his Nat Sec Advisor
Flynn did not disclose that he worked on this contract, and his firm claimed in a filing they were paid < $5K, when really it was > $500K.
Flynn and the client have given all kinds of contradictory stories about what Flynn was being paid to do. But that's kind of a red herring,
because whatever work Flynn was being paid to do, Flynn never actually did any work that had any use or value to the client.
Okay, a subcontractor sent 4 e-mails, and Flynn's partner attended a meeting with a congressional staffer. And it cost the client $530,000.
And now the White House is spinning out a new story every day to explain why they made this guy the National Security Advisor anyway.
And that's why the DOJ is circling around. This time, there's blood in the water. /end
New Details Show Trump’s Pick For Top Security Adviser May Have Broken Foreign Agent Law
The Turkish owner of the Dutch-registered firm that hired Flynn Intel Group, run by Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser, tells BuzzFeed News he hoped to use the company’s services after the firm was hired by an energy company in an undisclosed country.
posted on Nov. 23, 2016, at 10:43 a.m.
BuzzFeed News Reporter
UTRECHT, Netherlands — The lobbying firm run by Donald Trump’s pick for national security advisor made a deal with a Turkish-owned Dutch company that was acting on behalf of an undisclosed Middle East energy company — an arrangement experts say could violate US government filing rules.
Ekim Alptekin, the Istanbul-based aviation industry executive who owns the Dutch consulting company Inovo Limited Partnership, told BuzzFeed News in an extensive telephone interview that he had hired retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s firm for a fee “well below six figures” after being retained by a large Middle Eastern energy company eager for research on Turkey ahead of a possible large-scale investment in the country’s gas sector. Alptekin declined to publicly disclose the name of the energy firm or the country in which it is located.
The registration papers — for Inovo, and for the deal with Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group (FIG) — do not mention an energy firm in a third country, or any third party. Disclosure forms filed with the Senate by Flynn’s firm say Inovo hired it in September to advise on matters pertaining to a proposed US law on embassy security. Another filing in October said Flynn’s firm would advise Inovo on “US domestic and foreign policy.” Flynn’s company did not file under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA).
“I hired FIG for business intelligence and they provided it, and to the best of my knowledge Mr. Flynn has never been engaged in the work directly,” Alptekin told BuzzFeed News from Istanbul. “If he has been part of the work, I will be honored, but I never enjoyed any direct commercial interaction with him.”
Alptekin said he worked mostly with Flynn’s partner and legal counsel Robert Kelley, who knew about Inovo’s relationship to the Middle East energy company. “Bob Kelley of course knew I had clients who valued Turkey’s investment environment and in particular a regional energy company that asked me to include professional advice which I subsequently secured through FIG,” he said.
Kelley did not respond to several phone calls and text messages seeking comment. He told The Intercept last week he was only allowed to read a statement saying the company “registered pursuant to law for our company to represent the interests of a private company.” According to the statement, Flynn vowed to sever ties with the firm if he returned to government.
The arrangement has raised concerns of ethics watchdogs who say it is in possible violation of federal FARA rules designed to make transparent the influence of foreign players and money in US policy.
“It should be reported under FARA, which requires lobbyists for foreign interests to lay out an almost a biographical story about where the money is from, who the client is and include whether it’s on behalf of any third-party interest,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, which advocates reform of Washington lobbying rules. “It would be a violation of FARA reporting rules to conceal where the original money is coming from. Foreign interests cannot simply hire a third party and then evade disclosure.”
During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to crack down on foreign lobbying in Washington, arguing that not only his opponent, Hillary Clinton, but the entire political establishment had been hopelessly corrupted by moneyed international players. Allegedly failing to disclose the involvement of a third party in a lobbying deal is what prompted federal investigators to examine Paul Manafort, a Trump campaign adviser who resigned before the election.
Flynn’s deal with Inovo raised flags after it was revealed that the company was owned by Alptekin, who is reportedly close to Ankara’s political and economic establishment. Flynn’s own pronouncements on the Turkish government appear to have flipped as Trump’s victory drew nearer. He has been critical in the past — applauding the failed July 15 coup attempt against Ankara’s Islamist-rooted government, then later, on Election Day, writing a piece supporting Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based nemesis of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and alleged mastermind behind the failed coup attempt.
Alptekin founded Inovo 11 years ago. Dutch registration documents link the company to two addresses in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, yet BuzzFeed News found no trace of the firm during a recent visit.
Michael Flynn was paying FBI official who tried to sabotage Hillary Clinton during campaign
By Bill Palmer | March 11, 2017 | 0
Much of the focus this week has been on the half a million dollars which Turkey paid to Michael Flynn to act as a foreign agent while he was working for the Donald Trump campaign and administration – a revelation which Flynn is now belatedly admitting to. But that’s just the beginning of the scandal as it relates to the 2016 campaign. It turns out Flynn was paying an FBI official who tried to sabotage Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
The story comes by way of Daily Caller, typically a conservative mouthpiece, but its facts and sourcing appear to be solid in this particular instance. During the election, (now former) FBI deputy assistant director Brian McCauley called up the State Department and offered to retroactively declassify information that was thought to have been in Hillary Clinton’s emails, ostensibly trying to help her in the process, if the State Department was willing to grant other favors in return.
That offer was rebuked by the State Department, but then someone (possibly McCauley or Flynn) leaked it to the media in an effort to make it appear that Hillary Clinton’s former agency was considering quid pro quo deals to try to get her off the legal hook. And now it turns out Brian McCauley, the FBI guy who made the offer in the first place, was paid $28,000 in subcontracting fees by Michael Flynn. In fact the money came out of the $530,000 which Turkey paid to Flynn.
So the FBI deputy assistant director who tried to sabotage Hillary Clinton during the election was on the payroll of Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn, who in turn was on the payroll of Turkey. Daily Caller has more details. Additionally, Mike Pence has been caught lying about Flynn’s payments, and Turkey has reportedly asked Flynn for its money back.
https://www.palmerreport.com/news/micha ... aign/1881/
Flynn Paid Ex-FBI Agents, Behavior Analysts In Lobbying Work For Turkish Government
9:45 PM 03/09/2017
Former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s lobbying work for the Turkish government involved payments to several former FBI officials and a retired admiral who served in a top intelligence role for the joint chiefs of staff.
Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, also paid a behavior analysis firm operated by two former FBI agents.
Flynn disclosed that information to the Justice Department earlier this week when registering as a foreign agent for the Turkish government.
It is unclear what services Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, sought from the retired intelligence officials. But the firm’s $530,000 lobbying contract with its client, a Turkey-connected shell company called Inovo BV, centered on Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in exile from Turkey in Pennsylvania.
Flynn Intel’s filing, made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, is notable for its detail and timing. Flynn was fired from the Trump White House last month in a row over phone calls he had with Russia’s ambassador in December.
Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that the revelation that Flynn was lobbying for the Turkish government is “affirmation of the President’s decision to ask General Flynn to resign.” (RELATED: New Disclosures Reveal The Next Scandal That Would Have Hit Michael Flynn)
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, wants the U.S. government to extradite Gulen, who he blames for terrorist attacks in his country and a failed coup attempt in July.
Flynn Intel’s foreign agent disclosure reports show that it waged a public relations and congressional outreach campaign as part of its work for Inovo BV, which is owned and operated by Ekim Alptekin, the head of the Turkey-U.S. Business Council (TAIK) with ties to the Turkish government.
Fethullah Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania September 26, 2013. REUTERS
Alptekin also coordinated a meeting between Flynn and two high-ranking Turkish government officials in New York City on Sept. 19. On that same day, Flynn, Trump, and then-Sen. Jeff Sessions met with Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The White House said Thursday that Trump was not aware of Flynn’s lobbying work prior to the election.
Flynn Intel disclosed very little about the lobbying arrangement in filings with the U.S. Senate in September. Nor was the information disclosed in December, when Flynn Intel terminated the relationship with Inovo after Flynn was chosen as Trump’s national security adviser.
That final filing listed that Flynn Intel received less than $5,000 for its work for Inovo BV, far less than the $530,000 reported this week.
Part of Flynn Intel’s work involved conducting and gathering research on Gulen, an ally-turned-enemy of Erdogan’s.
The firm, which was based in Alexandria, Va., paid $28,000 to Brian McCauley, the former deputy assistant director for international operations at the FBI. Another $7,500 was paid to retired Rear Admiral Paul Becker for consulting work.
Becker is a former director of intelligence for the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and now runs Becker T3 Group, an intelligence consulting firm. He also served as intelligence community lead for the Trump transition team. (RELATED: Trump’s National Security Adviser Is Lobbying For Obscure Dutch Company With Ties To Turkish Government)
Flynn Intel also paid $20,000 to Operational Behavioral Services, a Virginia-based company that lists retired FBI agents Thomas Neer and Gina Orton as executives. Neer was assigned to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, and Orton was a psychiatrist at the bureau.
White Canvas Group, an open source research firm, received $15,000 from Flynn Intel.
None of the former government officials or firms responded to emails and phone calls placed directly or through intermediaries. Flynn’s lawyer forwarded questions to a press relations specialist. He was unable to answer questions about the details of Flynn’s or the ex-officials’ work.
McCauley has several connections to Flynn. The pair are personal friends, according to the book “Twilight Warriors,” published last year. They also served on the board of directors for Brainwave Science, a company that claims to have developed a “ground-breaking” brain fingerprinting technology that gauges truthfulness during interrogation.
Flynn Intel Group executives (Archived FlynnIntelGroup.com website)
One of Brainwave Science’s co-founder’s, Sabu Kota, pleaded guilty in 1996 to selling stolen biotech material to an undercover FBI agent posing as a KGB spy, Bloomberg News reported in December.
McCauley made national news in the aftermath of the Clinton email investigation and during the presidential campaign, while he was contracted with Flynn Intel Group.
Witnesses interviewed by the FBI in the case alleged that McCauley and now-retired State Department official Patrick Kennedy discussed a quid pro quo arrangement involving classification markings on a Clinton email. McCauley acknowledged that he suggested a quid pro quo with Kennedy but quickly scuttled the idea when he learned that the email involved “Secret” information related to the Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks.
As part of the lobbying contract, Flynn Intel’s researchers presented information they had on Gulen to House Homeland Security Committee staffers during a meeting in October, the new disclosures show.
It is unclear if McCauley or any of Flynn’s other subcontractors were part of that presentation.
A person familiar with the meetings was unable to recall any names of meeting participants other than that of Bijan Kian, a Flynn Intel partner and former board member of the Export-Import Bank.
TheDC’s source said that Kian used a pitch for a defense technology product as cover to discuss the Gulen extradition issue with the House committee.
After discussing the technology product, the source said that Kian introduced several men who said they had research on Gulen and network of charter schools his followers operate in the U.S.
Other lobbyists for the Turkish government have harped on the charter school network, claiming that Gulenists flout the H-1B system to hire teachers.
The House staffers in the meeting were turned off by Flynn Intel’s bait-and-switch, TheDC’s source said. They felt it was surreptitious, as well as pointless, given that the Homeland Security Committee would have no input on Gulen’s extradition. The federal court system would determine whether Gulen should be extradited. The Turkish government has presented evidence to the Justice Department that they say shows he is behind the July coup attempt.
Kian did not respond to an emailed request for comment on the meeting.
Flynn himself is not answering questions about the lobbying work, his research on Gulen, or the retired officials’ duties. His PR consultant told TheDC that he is not conducting interviews.
TheDC was able to reach Robert Kelley, the Flynn Intel lobbyist listed on the company’s lobbying disclosures with the Senate. He answered TheDC’s phone call but did not respond to after an initial greeting.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/09/flynn ... z4b3I5FVV4
Trump Aide Partnered With Firm Run by Man With Alleged KGB Ties
by David Kocieniewski and Peter Robison
December 23, 2016, 4:00 AM CST
Michael Flynn worked with ‘brain fingerprinting’ company
Its co-director convicted of selling stolen biotech material
Michael Flynn’s Business Partner Allegedly Tied to KGB
Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, partnered this year with a controversial technology company co-run by a man once convicted of trying to sell stolen biotech material to the Russian KGB espionage agency.
Subu Kota, who pleaded guilty in 1996 to selling the material to an FBI agent posing as a Russian spy, is one of two board directors at the company, Boston-based Brainwave Science. During years of federal court proceedings, prosecutors presented evidence they said showed that between 1985 and 1990 Kota met repeatedly with a KGB agent and was part of a spy ring that made hundreds of thousands of dollars selling U.S. missile defense technology to Russian spies. Kota denied being part of a spy ring, reached a plea agreement in the biotech case and admitted to selling a sketch of a military helicopter to his co-defendant, who was later convicted of being a KGB operative.
Flynn served more than three decades in the military and rose to become director of the Defense Intelligence Agency before he was fired by President Barack Obama in 2014 over policy disagreements. He formed a private consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, which has sought business with an array of cyber security firms and defense contractors. He began collaborating with Brainwave Science last spring.
Flynn, who has been widely criticized for close associations with Russia, has declined repeated requests during the past month to be interviewed about his company’s business ties. A spokesman for the Trump transition team, Jason Miller, said in an email that Flynn has never met or spoken with Kota and that he has ended his association with Brainwave Science.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Kota described his criminal charges and dealings with the KGB as misunderstandings. He acknowledged selling biotech material to a federal agent posing as a Russian spy, but said the incident was a patent dispute, not espionage.
Brainwave is seeking to develop a market for its innovative -– but broadly disputed -- technology called “brain fingerprinting” which tries to assess an interrogation subject’s honesty through a brain scan. Flynn was brought onto the company’s board of advisers to help sell the product to defense and law enforcement agencies, Brainwave President Krishna Ika said in an interview.
Ika said the company has not sold anything to U.S. federal agencies yet and is looking for investors. He runs the day-to-day operations while Kota brings business and technological expertise and helps make strategic decisions.
Although undercover federal agents testified that Kota bragged of his involvement in a KGB spy ring, Kota says he has never been a spy. He acknowledges meeting with Vladimir Galkin, a KGB agent, on at least four occasions and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for information about technology related to U.S. missile defense systems. But Kota said he thought Galkin was a businessman and that the information he provided was from public sources. Galkin was arrested at Kennedy Airport in 1996. Prosecutors were unable to build a case in the military spy ring they said he ran involving Kota and others after the U.S. State Department allowed him to leave the country.
Since pleading guilty to the biotech and tax evasion charges, Kota said he has steered clear of anything remotely illegal.
“Not even a parking ticket,” he said.
Kota also runs a consulting company called The Boston Group. Federal court records show that after pleading guilty in the biotech case, he testified against his co-defendant and received a reduced sentence of four years’ probation and a $50,000 fine.
Flynn has met with Brainwave officials at least 10 times, according to Ika, and signed a collaboration agreement to help drum up new business with U.S. agencies. Flynn also agreed to train any national security or law enforcement agency that purchased Brainwave products at Flynn Intel Group headquarters, Ika said. Flynn’s company, based in the Washington suburb of Fairfax, Virginia, promised to provide “world-class training services led by qualified security professionals with experience in intelligence and investigation,” Brainwave’s website says.
Headpiece With Sensors
Flynn tested the product himself, Ika said. He put on the helmet-like headpiece fitted with sensors, which is said to read a subject’s brainwaves in an attempt to detect information.
“He found it very convincing,” Ika said.
Flynn’s activities with the company continued after he began receiving classified intelligence briefings in mid-August as part of Trump’s campaign. In late September, Ika said, he and Flynn pitched Brainwave to officials from the Bangladeshi defense forces during a meeting at Flynn’s offices.
After Trump won the election in November and named Flynn his national security adviser, the collaboration stalled, Ika said. Lawyers are now negotiating how to continue Brainwave’s collaboration with other partners from Flynn Intel Group.
Flynn has been criticized for making a paid speech at Russia Today, a state-run news agency, and sitting with President Vladimir Putin at a dinner in Moscow in 2015 to celebrate RT’s anniversary. Flynn and his son also helped spread internet conspiracies on social media, and last February the elder Flynn tweeted, “Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.”
For defense employees and private-sector military contractors such as Flynn who want to check on potential business partners, the Department of Defense publishes a periodic report entitled “Espionage and Other Compromises of National Security.” The 2009 edition, available online, includes a description of Kota’s conviction.
Brainwave’s product line is built on a technique developed by inventor Lawrence Farwell in the 1990s. The process received so much attention as a potential breakthrough for law enforcement that Congress ordered the General Accounting Office to study it. In a report released in 2001, the GAO found that its claims of effectiveness could not be validated and were not worth trying.
Ika said that after the 9/11 terror attacks, which inspired him to use his background to help fight terrorism, he heard about the technique and eventually collaborated with Farwell. Ika said he was convinced that skepticism about brain fingerprinting had been fomented by the “polygraph lobby” which did not want to lose business to a more effective technology. Brainwave now markets its product as an enhancement to polygraphs.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... d-kgb-ties
Michael Flynn is absolutely screwing Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and he doesn’t care
By Bill Palmer | March 12, 2017 | 0
Once month after Donald Trump and Mike Pence upended Michael Flynn’s life by making him the first scapegoat in the Russia scandal, Flynn is now doing the same in kind. It’s not entirely clear whether Flynn is looking for revenge or merely looking to protect himself at all cost. But either way, Flynn is taking steps to try to save his own ass, and if that just happens to hurt the two co-conspirators who fired him, he clearly no longer cares.
Make no mistake: when Michael Flynn retroactively registered a foreign agent this week, he set off a bomb within the Trump-Russia scandal. Flynn is now coming clean about the half a million dollars he took from a Turkish government intermediary, and when he took it. In the process he’s indirectly exposed the fact that Donald Trump and Mike Pence both knew Flynn was on the take from a hostile foreign government at the time they made him National Security Adviser.
Worse, Flynn has exposed that Trump and Pence both lied about it to the public. Even worse than that, it’s blown apart the claim that Flynn was forced out because he lied to Pence about his phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. Pence can no longer believably paint himself as this put-upon innocent character who had no idea Flynn was a dirty rat until he read about it in the headlines. If Pence lied to the American public about knowing Flynn was dirty on Turkey, then it’s a reasonable assumption that Pence lied about knowing Flynn was dirty on Russia as well. Just how much did Mike Pence know about the Russia scandal at the time? And so as bad as this is for Trump, it may be worse for Pence.
It still begs the question of why Michael Flynn is suddenly doing this. By registering now as a foreign agent, he’s admitting he broke the law by not registering while he was on the take. He’s voluntarily implicating himself in a past crime in an attempt to now get himself on the right side of the law. You know who does that? Someone who’s listening to his lawyer. And you know what else lawyers tell their guilty clients? Flip on your bosses and sing like a canary in exchange for leniency or immunity. Flynn is already Trump and Pence’s worst nightmare – and it’s just getting started.
https://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/mi ... care/1892/
The Michael Flynn – Turkey connection to Donald Trump’s sudden firing of Preet Bharara
By Bill Palmer | March 11, 2017 | 1
Even as we continue to try piece together precisely why Donald Trump changed his mind this week and fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whom he had previously asked to remain on the job, yet another eye popping detail has emerged. This week it was revealed that Trump adviser Michael Flynn was on Turkey’s payroll all along, and Trump knew it. One of the Turkish regime’s closest allies is currently sitting in a U.S. prison – because Preet Bharara has been holding him there.
The story goes like this: Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for New York City, brought charges of financial corruption against Turkish business tycoon Reza Zarrab in March of 2016. Zarrab was such a crucial ally of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan that after Zarrab was arrested, Bharara became an instant national hero among those in Turkey who hoped for Erdogan’s ouster (source: New York Times). Zarrab was denied bail, and is still sitting in a United States prison awaiting trial in October 2017 (source: Turkish Minute). What does this have to do with Donald Trump? That depends on what happens next.
Michael Flynn admitted this week that he took $530,000 from a Turkish government intermediary to represent the Erdogan regime’s interests. It’s also been revealed that Vice President Mike Pence knew about Flynn’s arrangement with Turkey since at least November and was not only fine with it, but also lied about it. It’s nearly a given, then, that Donald Trump also knew Flynn was a paid Turkish agent and didn’t care.
Turkey and Erdogan no doubt want Reza Zarrab freed and returned home. Preet Bharara would have been leading the prosecution of Zarrab at his trial later this year, but that status is now uncertain. So it’ll be key to watch what happens to Zarrab once Trump appoints a replacement U.S. Attorney to handle Zarrab’s case. If he’s suddenly released on bail, then it’ll suggest that Trump was fine with Flynn’s status as a paid Turkish agent because Trump has overriding allegiance to Erdogan of his own.
http://www.palmerreport.com/politics/be ... lynn/1890/
Flynn Intel and S.G.R. LLC Government Relations and Lobbying pressured congressional aides to investigate a cleric whom Erdogan had accused of directing a botched coup last summer. The two firms orchestrated meetings with U.S. officials- including congressional staffers and Arkansas Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, a Republican - as well as journalists. They also worked on research, informational materials and a video on the cleric, Fethullah Gulen.
Flynn met privately in September in New York with two senior Turkish government officials, including the government’s ministers of foreign affairs and energy. Flynn’s company did not name the officials, but the current Turkish energy minister is Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law.
Alptekin told the AP he set up the meeting at a New York hotel between Flynn and the two officials while the officials were attending U.N. sessions and a separate conference Alptekin had arranged. Alptekin is a member of a Turkish economic relations board run by an appointee of Erdogan, who has accelerated a crackdown against the nation’s weakening secularist faction since the failed coup last summer.
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/white-house ... gent-work/
Email cache proves Turkish oil minister’s links to Isis oil trade, WikiLeaks claims
More than 57,000 emails reportedly from account of Minister of Oil Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, hacked by activist collective Redhack
Bethan McKernan Beirut @mck_beth Wednesday 7 December 2016 13:09 GMT
WikiLeaks has released a cache of thousands of personal emails allegedly from the account of senior Turkish government minister Berat Albayrak, son-in-law of the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which it says shows the extent of links between Mr Albayrak and a company implicated in deals with Isis-controlled oil fields.
The 60,000 strong searchable cache, released on Monday, spans the time period between April 2000 - September 23 2016, and shows Mr Albayrak had intimate knowledge of staffing and salary issues at Powertrans, a company which was controversially given a monopoly on the road and rail transportation of oil into the country from Iraqi Kurdistan.
Turkish media reported in 2014 and 2015 that Powertrans has been accused of mixing in oil produced by Isis in neighbouring Syria and adding it to local shipments which eventually reached Turkey, although the charges have not been substantiated by any solid evidence.
The emails were apparently obtained by Redhack, a Turkish hactivist collective. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that they were published in response to the Turkish government’s widening crackdown on dissent.
Mr Albayrak, one of the most powerful individuals in Turkey, is widely seen as being groomed to be Mr Erdogan’s successor. The hardline president has been consolidating his grip on power by implementing emergency powers and arresting thousands of journalists, activists and academics in the wake of a failed military coup in July.
“The people of Turkey need a free media and a free internet,” Mr Assange said.
'The government's counter-coup efforts have gone well beyond their stated purpose of protecting the state... and are now primarily used to steal assets and eliminate critics.
“This consolidation around the power vertical of Recep Tayyip Erdogan ultimately weakens Turkish institutionalism, leaving Turkey more susceptible to future coups by those in Erdogan's chain of command.”
The emails also offer a look at the close relationship between Mr Albayrak and Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, US President-elect Donald Trump’s business partner in Turkey.
Mr Yalcindag is the son-in-law of the Turkish media mogul Aydin Dogan, and their correspondence purportedly shows that he used his influence over Mr Dogan to censor journalists critical of President Erdogan.
Redhack first leaked information on Mr Yalcindag in September, forcing the businessman to step down from his position as CEO of Dogan Publishing.
Mr Erdogan was accused of having links to the smuggling of Isis oil in 2015 by opposition politician Eren Erdem, who was put on trial for treason for making the allegations.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 60736.html
Trump Hotel To Host Conference For Michael Flynn’s Foreign Lobbying Client
11:18 PM 03/13/2017
A Turkish business consortium chaired by a businessman with lobbying ties to former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is co-hosting a three-day conference at Trump International Hotel in May.
The Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK) will co-host the 36th annual “Conference on U.S.-Turkey Relations” with the American Turkish Council (ATC) from May 21 to May 23.
TAIK’s chairman is Ekim Alptekin, the sole proprietor of Inovo BV, a Dutch shell company that paid Flynn’s consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, $530,000 last year for work on behalf of the Turkish government.
Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, disclosed details of that work last week in papers filed with the Justice Department. He also registered as a foreign agent of Turkey. (RELATED: As Foreign Agent, Michael Flynn Formed ‘Investigative Laboratory’ To Seek ‘Criminal Referrals’ On Turkey’s Behalf)
ATC and TAIK announced Trump International as the conference venue in January, before Flynn was fired from his job as national security adviser and before he registered as a foreign agent of Turkey. But his work with Alptekin and for Trump is likely to raise questions about whether he had anything to do with arranging the conference.
The groups have held the conference at The Ritz-Carlton since 2010. The reasons for the change of is unclear. ATC did not respond to a request for comment.
The website Washington Hatti reported the TAC-TAIK conference on Monday.
Trump International’s D.C. hotel has been the target of intense scrutiny from many Trump critics since its opening in October.
Though Trump has said he’s cut direct financial ties to his real estate empire, groups like the liberal Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have filed complaints alleging that his hotels violate the little-used Emoluments Clause, a rule which constitutionally prohibits U.S. officials from receiving payments or gifts from foreign governments or government-controlled entities without congressional approval.
And TAIK has close ties to the Turkish government.
The group, which Alptekin took over in 2015, operates directly under the umbrella of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK). Though that group is nominally controlled by Turkey’s cabinet, several sources with knowledge of Turkey’s political and economic climate have told The Daily Caller that both organizations operate increasingly at the direction of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Business executives from the U.S. and Turkey, as well as U.S. and Turkish government officials, are set to attend May’s conference. Ernest Moniz, the Energy Secretary under President Obama, was the highest-ranking U.S. official to speak at last year’s gathering.
ATC did not respond to a request for comment on the decision to switch this year’s conference to the Ritz-Cartlon and on whether Alptekin will speak at the event. The 40-year-old businessman gave a speech at least year’s meeting.
The group was also asked if Flynn had any input into this year’s conference.
As a foreign agent for Turkey, Flynn agreed to conduct research on Erdogan’s most hated enemy, Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in self-exile in Pennsylvania.
Erdogan has pleaded with Presidents Obama and Trump to extradite Gulen, who he accuses of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July.
As part of its contract, Flynn Intel agreed use an “investigative laboratory” to conduct research that could be used to make “criminal referrals,” seemingly regarding the Gulen case.
The contract, signed on Aug. 9, stated that Flynn Intel’s “investigative laboratory” would consist of former CIA director James Woolsey and several ex-FBI officials. Information for the research was also to be used to make a documentary and to perform other public relations activities.
Flynn Intel was initially set to be paid $600,000 for three months of work on the project.
Woolsey, who served as an unpaid adviser to the Flynn Intel group, told TheDC through a spokesman that he had no idea about Flynn’s work for the Turkish government. He also said he was never asked or consulted about being part of an investigative team for the company.
Trump Hotels did not respond to a request for comment on May’s conference.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/13/trump ... z4bJ1D9qG5
N.J. congressman wants details on Michael Flynn's lobbying status
Fredreka Schouten , USA TODAY Published 7:06 a.m. ET March 14, 2017 | Updated 1 hour ago
The White House says lawyers for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told President Donald Trump's transition team before the inauguration that Flynn might need to register with the government as a foreign agent, but Trump was not aware of the move. (March 10) AP
WASHINGTON — A New Jersey congressman wants to know whether President Trump's former national security adviser can skirt ethics rules and profit from his short-lived government post with lucrative lobbying work.
Ethics rules that President Trump signed in January bar administration officials from lobbying their former agencies for five years after leaving the government and impose a lifetime prohibition on lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. The executive order, however, dropped a requirement imposed by President Obama to publicly report on the number of employees who complied with the ethics pledge and whether the administration had granted any waivers that allow employees to avoid those ethics restrictions.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, has written to Trump asking whether former national security adviser Michael Flynn received a waiver that would allow him to lobby on behalf of a foreign government.
Flynn, who lasted less than a month in the White House before he was fired by Trump over his discussions with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, last week registered retroactively as a foreign agent. He acknowledged working on behalf of a Dutch firm with ties to Turkey’s government and said he earned $530,000 from the firm last year while serving as a key adviser to the Trump campaign.
Flynn’s work included investigating Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in exile in rural Pennsylvania. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims Gulen helped instigated a failed coup against his government last year and wants him extradited.
“Trump’s campaign was built on a platform of America First,” Pascrell told USA TODAY, citing one of the president’s campaign themes. “I’m concerned that Trump’s national security adviser advocated for a client that put a foreign government first.”
In a letter to Trump, Pascrell asked him to “publicly certify” whether he or anyone in the administration has or will exempt Flynn from the post-employment foreign lobbying ban.
On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters all administration officials are required to sign an ethics pledge that bars them from ever lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.
White House officials declined to answer USA TODAY questions about whether Flynn — or any other administration official — had received a waiver from the ethics order.
They referred questions to Flynn, who did not respond to interview requests.
Flynn's lobbying revelations have forced the White House to contend with repeated questions in recent days about the conduct of a former employee as the administration works on an array of issues, ranging from a newly revised order on immigration to efforts to push a bill through Congress that repeals the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
Ethics watchdogs have sounded alarms about Trump’s decision to drop the public-disclosure requirement.
“It’s one of the biggest weaknesses of the new order,” said Norm Eisen, who served as Obama’s top ethics lawyer and now chairs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Ethics doesn’t work in secret.”
Eisen’s group has sued Trump over his decision to retain ownership of his real-estate and branding businesses.
Pascrell also has challenged Trump on other issues. Last month, for instance, he unsuccessfully sought to have the Ways and Means Committee use an obscure 1924 law to examine the president’s tax returns for potential conflicts of interest.
Trump has refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing IRS audit.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/poli ... /99143896/
Michael Flynn an Undisclosed Foreign Agent During Trump Campaign
Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn worked as a "foreign agent" for the Turkish government last fall, even as he served as a top adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign—and failed to disclose his lobbying efforts as required by law. The revelation came in a retroactive filing by Flynn with the Justice Department on Tuesday. It reveals he was paid more than a half-million dollars to lobby on behalf of a firm linked to the Turkish government. By failing to register with the federal government, Flynn violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act. On Election Day, Flynn authored an op-ed in the newspaper The Hill calling for the extradition to Turkey of a prominent opponent of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who’s lived in Pennsylvania since 1999. At the White House, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if Donald Trump knew of Flynn’s work as a foreign agent.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: "I don’t believe that that was known. I would refer you to General Flynn and to the Department of Justice in terms of the filings that have been made."
John Roberts: "Had the president have known that, would he have appointed him?"
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: "I don’t know, John. That’s a hypothetical that I’m not prepared to ask. I don’t—I don’t—I don’t know what he discussed prior to—prior to being appointed, in terms of his background, his résumé, his client base. I don’t know any of that."
Last month, the White House fired Michael Flynn as national security adviser, following revelations he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador before Donald Trump’s inauguration.
https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/10/ ... p_campaign
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