It has been learned former National Security Advisor, Gen. Michael Flynn, was prepared to register as agent on behalf of a foreign government before accepting a role as a top aide to President Trump.
A foreign agent is one who works on behalf of a foreign nation, often representing the foreign government in his or her home country.
Flynn’s officially registering as a representative for Turkey with the Justice Department last week has raised questions over his connections to the country while he was involved with the Trump transition effort.
It is now known attorneys representing Flynn informed White House transition team members of the general’s work, including Trump legal counsel Don McGahn.
Under the specifications of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a foreign agent must disclose political or quasi-political work. Registration as an agent also requires disclosures related to the nature of the activity and financial details.
The White House denied the President Trump knew of Flynn’s work or the possibility Flynn would register as a foreign agent as early as November 2016.
“It’s a business matter, it’s not something that would be appropriate for a government entity to give someone guidance on when they should file as an individual,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters Friday.
According to documents, Flynn, who founded and led Flynn Intel Group, was paid $530,000 to perform public relations and research for Dutch-based Inovo BV, which is owned by Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin.
Mr. Alptekin is believed to enjoy a close relationship with Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan.
Although Flynn Intel Group’s contract with Inovo BV expired after the election and was not renewed, work Flynn performed on behalf of Turkey included exploration of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric who the Turkish government has branded a traitor and which seeks his extradition for allegedly inciting the 2016 Turkish coup.
Flynn also wrote an opinion piece for The Hill in November 2016 calling for the U.S. to honor Turkey’s extradition request.
Although it is not typical for top campaign official to be registered as a foreign agent, it is not illegal and could be more of a complication as the Trump administration continues to confront lingering questions over Flynn’s brief role as national security adviser.
Flynn was forced to resign in February after it emerged he had held a series of conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kisylak in December 2016.
[Washington Post via Boston Globe] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Reuters via BBC]