Days before President Donald Trump took office, incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn blocked a military plan against the Islamic State group that was opposed by Turkey, a country he had been paid more than $500,000 to advocate for, the McClatchy news service reported.
According to the report, Flynn declined a request from the Obama administration to approve an operation in the IS stronghold of Raqqa, effectively delaying the military operation. His reasoning wasn't reported, but Turkey has long opposed U.S. military operations in cooperation with Kurdish forces.
At the time, Flynn had not yet registered as a foreign agent and disclosed that he had been paid to lobby on behalf of the Turkish government. Weeks after his firing, Flynn retroactively registered with the Justice Department.
The story by McClatchy was published online just minutes after a New York Times report that Flynn informed the Trump transition team that he was under Department of Justice scrutiny for his lobbying work on behalf of Turkey. The White House declined comment on the Times piece, but did not offer a denial of the underlying facts.
News about Flynn's activity comes amid intense scrutiny over his and other Trump associates' potential contacts with Russia. On Wednesday, the Department of Justice named former FBI Director Robert Mueller to be special counsel investigating Russian efforts to influence the U.S. presidential election. Mueller will have sweeping powers, including the right to bring federal charges.
House and Senate intelligence committees are also investigating.
Trump fired Flynn in February on other grounds — that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other White House officials about his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.
The military plan against the Islamic State stronghold was eventually approved, but not until after Flynn had been fired.
McClatchy's reporting reflects previous reports in The New Yorker and other media outlets about Flynn's work on behalf of Turkey.
A Wall Street Journal report in March cited ex-CIA Director James Woolsey who said he was present at a discussion between Turkish officials and Flynn's firm, Flynn Intel Group, abstractly discussing removing Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen from the United States and returning him to Turkey outside of the extradition process — essentially abducting him.
Woolsey described the discussion as "brainstorming, but it was brainstorming about a very serious matter that would pretty clearly be a violation of law." Woolsey noted that the discussion "did not rise to the level of being a specific plan to undertake a felonious act."
Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com