A new report from Bloomberg shows that Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser had many more concerning business ties than previously known, blending his own interests with the interests of Russia, Turkey, the Middle East, and the United States as he served in a top government role for the United States.
Ethical and national security concerns resulting from these egregious conflicts of interest may have paved the way for special counsel Robert Mueller to take a much closer look for similar patterns inside the Trump administration, all the way to the office of the President himself.
Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, said of Flynn that:
“His hidden business entanglements and his back channel communications with foreign governments raise a lot of possibilities.”
A 3-month Bloomberg investigation has found that Michael Flynn had a slew of problematic entanglements: Previously unreported docs—including Pentagon contracts, emails and internal company papers—point to overlapping business conflicts around the world. https://t.co/e1LZabZVUs
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 19, 2018
Now the ex-general Flynn is cooperating with Mueller and could tip off the investigators into other conflicts of interest inside the Trump administration. As a person in close contact with both the Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and with Donald Trump, he is likely to know quite a lot.
We know that he has lied to officials about his conversations with Kislyak and failed to disclose key meetings with people like the pro-Russia Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.
“While it remains unclear what he’s providing Mueller, his history of mingling business with government could point investigators to look for similar overlaps among other Trump insiders.”
Flynn, who led chants of “Lock her up!” about Trump’s political opponent during the Trump campaign, reportedly never thought Trump would really win. Instead, he saw it as a business opportunity, working on deals to help his friend pitch smartphone microchips to the Pentagon and overseas, sell nuclear reactor security in the Middle East with Russian cooperation, and getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby for Turkey.
Some notable and newly-disclosed conflicts for Flynn:
Michael Flynn prevented a military attack on ISIS to appease the President of Turkey:
“Flynn also stopped a U.S. military plan to attack Islamic State in an offensive that would have armed the Kurds, Erdogan’s avowed enemy, according to a Flynn confidant who said the decision was aimed at assessing previous policy.”
Flynn and Bijan Kian, his friend who is an Iranian-born businessman planned to hire private security contractors to sidestep the CIA and provide intelligence collected around the globe to the national security adviser.
Flynn helped Kian find a spot on the Trump transition team’s intelligence committee, where they failed to disclose they were being paid to represent Turkey.
Kian had previously developed a relationship with former CIA Director James Woolsey.
Flynn supported Kian’s Pentagon bid for a million-dollar contract for computer chips that would provide security for cell phones. When Former President Barack Obama forced him out of the administration, Flynn became a board member for the chip company, GreenZone, making a salary of at least $150,000 plus stock in the company.
With Flynn on the board a year after leaving the military, GreenZone was awarded a $1.1 million contract from the Pentagon’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.
The Defense Department ethics guidelines prohibit such conflicts of interest:
“The rules forbid former employees from accepting a job or compensation from a company within a year of helping it obtain a government contract worth at least $10 million.”
Flynn’s partner Kian met with the House Homeland Security Committee during the Trump campaign to promote GreenZone products.
Kian and another GreenZone board member who is also the son of the former FBI Director Louis Freeh, attended another House Homeland Security Committee meeting at Flynn’s now-dissolved consulting firm, Flynn Intelligence Group, in Alexandria.
The topic of getting a Turkish cleric extradited from his legal residence in Pennsylvania back to Turkey was discussed, although the committee thought the meeting topic was a live demonstration of the microchips.
Flynn lied about a trip on his federal disclosures, omitting that he tried to sell GreenZone’s secure chips as part of a deal to build dozens of nuclear power reactors in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel in 2015.
Flynn was accused by the former CIA Director James Woolsey of planning to physically abduct the Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen from the United States. Woolsey said the plan was to take the cleric to Turkey, where he would face punishment from the Turkish President, who had accused him of leading a coup attempt.
Flynn’s lawyer denied there was ever such a plan, but Flynn had acknowledged lying to the FBI that the Turkish government had played a part when Flynn published an op-ed article critical of Gulen the day Trump won the presidential election. Flynn’s friend Kian may have played a “crucial role” in the article.
Flynn later admitted that he was paid by the Turkish government to lobby U.S. officials to extradite Gulen.
Let this sink in: Flynn wanted to get this man removed from his residence in America and taken against his will overseas to satisfy a foreign government who wanted to punish a political rival.
Even considering how bizarre, unethical, and stunning some of Flynn’s conflicts are, it seems entirely probable that Trump might have seen his own campaign in a similar way to Flynn, wanting to capitalize on projects like launching his own television network on Fox News. Trump may not have believed he would win, but now that he has, his conflicts of interest are an enormous mess too.
Trump also has business interests all over the world. If he could excuse Flynn as long as he did after being warned by Obama and Sally Yates of his conflicts of interest with foreign governments, how much more could he excuse his own conflicts?
The real question is: How much do Republicans excuse these conflicts?
Despite Flynn’s jaw-dropping conflicts of interest around the world, which certainly compromised America’s national security, here is the Republican response for a recent campaign event that Flynn attended…
A sickening and bewildering standing ovation for this ultra-corrupt Trump official, and a welcoming embrace from today’s corrupt Republican party.
Sorry, but this is embarrassing and disgraceful beyond measure. Traitor & convict Michael Flynn receives a standing ovation by republican supporters at an eventhttps://t.co/l2e19pwpga
— The Hummingbird 🐦 (@SaysHummingbird) March 18, 2018
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn officially came to California to endorse me. Glad to have him on board.
— Omar Navarro (@RealOmarNavarro) March 18, 2018
See Flynn’s remarks as he campaigned for Navarro below:
Featured image By Mike Licht Via Flickr/CC-By-2.0.