Charges center not on Russia collusion but on Flynn’s undisclosed lobbying work for Turkey
Earlier this week, Professor Jacobson noted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is focused on process crimes and other things unrelated to the purpose of the Trump campaign-Russia collusion investigation.
So I’ve had to watch several news cycles without being able to jump in. One of those cycles was the indictment of Paul Manafort and the guilty plea disclosure for George Papadopoulos.
Certainly this is not the end of the Mueller investigation story, but so far, it’s proceeding as predicted: Rounding up the usual suspects close to Trump and process crimes.
Nothing in the Manafort indictment has to do with Trump. Apparently Mueller was unable to flip Manafort against Trump prior to filing charges (or did he?) so the pressure increases. Manafort may not have anything to give up on Trump, he may just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and now is a target.
Expect Mueller to find crimes by others in the Trump orbit, having nothing to do with Trump.
Sure enough, NBC News is reporting that Mueller has “enough evidence” to bring charges against General Mike Flynn and his son. The charges, however, appear to be unrelated to Russian collusion with Trump or his campaign.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 5, 2017
Federal investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring charges in their investigation of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation.
Michael T. Flynn, who was fired after just 24 days on the job, was one of the first Trump associates to come under scrutiny in the federal probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.
Mueller is applying renewed pressure on Flynn following his indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
NBC emphasizes that the reported charges are a result of Mueller’s Russian collusion investigation, but while true, the emphasis is misleading because from their own report the possible charges have nothing to do with the Trump campaign, Russia, or collusion between the two.
The investigators are speaking to multiple witnesses in coming days to gain more information surrounding Flynn’s lobbying work, including whether he laundered money or lied to federal agents about his overseas contacts, according to three sources familiar with the investigation.
Mueller’s team is also examining whether Flynn attempted to orchestrate the removal of a chief rival of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars, two officials said.
The connection to the Trump campaign seems to be based only in that Flynn was working for the campaign while also engaging in undisclosed lobbying work for Turkey, including lobbying the Obama administration to extradite Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan believes was responsible for the failed coup against him.
Flynn was paid $500,000 last year by the businessman, Ekim Alptekin, who is a member of a Turkish economic-relations board run by an appointee of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Alptekin is also the head of Inovo, a consulting firm.
Flynn’s firm was tasked with fomenting dissent inside Turkey, and with lobbying the US government to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, who Erdogan believes is responsible for planning last year’s attempted coup.
Mueller’s team also subpoenaed the lobbying firm SGR LLC in August after Flynn Intel Group hired the firm to ostensibly “promote a good business climate in Turkey,” The Washington Post reported. Flynn’s firm hired SGR as part of its work with Inovo.
Although Flynn’s group’s initial stated goal in hiring SGR was to foster a stronger business climate in Turkey, it was later forced to indicate that it brought SGR on to “raise concerns” to the US about Gulen.
Flynn raised eyebrows when he wrote an op-ed for The Hill, published on November 8, alleging Gulen helmed a “vast global network” that had “all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network.”
Flynn’s op-ed seemed out of place amid his work with Trump’s campaign. His work for Inovo did not come to light until after he registered as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice in March — four months after his contract with Alptekin ended.
It seems that the purpose of bringing or threatening to bring charges against Flynn’s son is to intimidate Flynn into protecting his son.
The Business Insider continues:
The evidence relates to Flynn’s lobbying work throughout the latter half of 2016 — while he was a top Trump campaign surrogate — for a businessman with ties to the Turkish government. Flynn did not register with the US Justice Department as a foreign agent until March 2017.
. . . . Flynn Jr. appears to have been closely associated with his father’s work. In addition to co-founding and working for Flynn Intel Group, he joined Flynn during a trip to Moscow in December 2015, NBC News reported, during which Flynn was paid $34,000 to deliver a speech at an event celebrating the state-sponsored news agency RT.
A former business associate of Michael Flynn’s told NBC News that Flynn Jr. had a prominent role in Flynn Intel Group’s day-to-day operations and served as his father’s chief of staff.
Mueller’s additional focus on Flynn Jr. is likely an attempt to coerce his father’s cooperation in the investigation, legal experts have said. This possibility may be especially significant given that Flynn declined a new request in September to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
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